The New Zealand floral industry employs over 10,000 kiwis and plays a vital part within their local communities. So, how did Covid-19 impact the industry in this country and what did they learned from this experience? In a series of videos, Feel Good With Flowers present the stories of different links in the chain, an auction, grower, wholesaler and florist, and how they remained resilient in a time of crisis. For the 2020 NZ Flowers week, that will run from November 16th to 22nd 2020, the theme is therefore 'Resilience in Bloom'.
United Flower Growers
United Flower Growers (auction)
In April, the crisis hit the country, The lockdown created immediate uncertainty across the wider industry. ll links in the chain had to adapt to the situation. Not only within the company, with social distancing and completing the job safely, also business wise. At the auction, Unite Flower Growers, for example, an important part was to get the remote cloud action ready for buyers, because the auction never had never been run 100% online.
On top of that, they had a number of flower businesses contacting them to figure out what it is that's going on. "We felt that it was our duty to be able to provide them with that information and help them as best as we can. By reaching out to government agricultural heads, we were able to guide those in need with the right protocol to continue business safely", says Abdul Rahman, Auction Operations Manager at United Flower Growers.
As lockdowns lifted, UFG's team were able to ensure the supply of product once again. "We did that simply by adapting the way we did business and through high use of our cloud auction platform. UFG's resilience is born out of true Kiwi grit and ingenuity. we don't give up, we want to win and we want to find solutions", says Tom Hayes, CEO at the auction.
Bokay Flowers (grower)
Growers were impacted heavily. They several had to throw away flowers and others decided to give them away at their farm gates. Bokay Flowers for example did the latter. Covid impacted them severely as they had an excess of flowers that they couldn't sell. Therefore, they decided to put them in buckets and place them in four locations around Drury with a note on i "free flowers". The response was overwhelming. Every day they had to fill them up and by lunchtime, everything was gone, owner Berrie Kay explains. "Then the next thing started to happen, I'd find cakes, fruit, eggs and then wine as well on my doorstep. It just shows what a great country we really have, the kindliness that was generated from that."
After lockdown, or approaching the end of it, everything was still uncertain how the situation would be for the industry, but it quickly turned out to got better and better. "I think people probably learned in that time it was always an old adage joke of flower are food for the soul and I believe it is. We run operation for 40 years now. we will continue long after I left this world."
Central Flower Wholesalers (wholesaler)
And more good things resulted from the lockdown. Dave Channings, owner of Central Flower Wholesalers explained that Covid devastated them at first, but then they came to realize that it was a good opportunity to take the time off. "We've spent some wonderful time, just relaxing all day and that is just unheard of in the flower industry. We usually do not get the time to sit down and reflect as we could during the covid lockdown."
Mangere Floral Studio (florist)
Also florist Mangere Floral Studio, was hit hard by Covid-19, but owner Sepali Naus says that it made them resilient. During the lockdown, she continued working and did her website, database and so on. When Mother's Day hit (at level three),they had to change things around. "We couldn't work together, we had to work in teams. Difficult but in a sense it actually brought us all together. Lot of couriers were running late and I had difficulties in that so brought family in to do deliveries. People really wanted to support the local and it was a massive hit for supporting local florists. People were very kind. Also United Flower Actions actually do help to get the flowers."
For more information
NZ Flowers Week