Mike Mooney, Floral Union Farms:

US (CA): “We were unknowingly preparing for this high demand five years ago”

Unknowingly, their expansion plan made five years ago prepared Floral Union Farms, a grower and bouquet maker located in Southern California, for the recent high demand for flowers. In addition, the demand for new and unique flowers, which stalled in 2020, has been rising again. Mike Mooney, Product Development Specialist at Floral Union Farms, reports on their five-year expansion plan and the difficulty of introducing new products during the pandemic.

Mike Mooney of Flower Union Farms

Five-year expansion plan
The company, which started in 2005 and supplies their products all over the US and Canada, has rapidly grown in size over the last five years. Mooney explains: “We were already increasing our production by 30% every year over the last five years. When the pandemic started that was very nerve-wracking because they were large increases of flowers that were designed to go to the mass market, which was actually cutting orders.” Traditionally, Floral Union has sold to wholesalers and retailers, and very little to the mass market. “Now we equipped our facility with printers and sleeves and bouquet benches for our bouquet division, which made the first six months of the pandemic very stressful. But as things progressed, all that new production really worked out for us these last six months with the demand being so high.”

Transportation and labor costs
As the company has been increasing these last five years, they were lucky enough to have planned for more people and equipment this year. Yet, Mooney shares that transportation and labor costs have still been big challenges for the company: “Because of this high demand we run the trucks from our farms less full than we want, because we need the products so fast. We have to send the truck half empty because we don’t want to wait for more cuttings to come from the field, as we need as much product as possible every day. The higher demand thus also leads to higher transportations costs. Our labor costs are also much higher because of employees working overtime as our bouquet department has become very busy. So, while we were very lucky to be mostly prepared, transportation and labor have been our two biggest challenges.”

Some bouquets created by Floral Union Farms

The difficulty of introducing new products
Floral Union Farms also focuses on new and unusual flowers, which have been difficult to introduce during the pandemic. Mooney shares: “These past five years we have noticed that customers are looking for new and unique products. So we have been growing more unusual products, such as tuberose, acacia, and the very unique Empress Protea. We also produce unusual bouquets with textures or dried flowers. However, because of COVID-19, we noticed that there was no desire to bring out new products in 2020. A lot of companies temporarily stopped carrying any products that were new and unique. This is also partly due to how difficult it is to introduce new products without any trade shows. At the start of the pandemic, a lot of companies were worried about their more basic flowers, such as roses, but new products are more difficult to introduce over a Zoom call.” Fortunately, things are slowly getting back to normal. “It is slightly changing now, buyers are becoming more open again to new products and there is a rekindled desire for new bouquet designs. There is also a big trend in preserved and dried flowers, which we cater to as well, by including dried flowers in our bouquets.”

Empress Protea

Mooney is optimistic that this demand will continue throughout the rest of this year. “A lot of events will be coming back, as many were postponed to this year, such as weddings and cruises. Therefore, there will be a big quantity of celebratory events that require flowers and we expect to continue at the same pace up until October. For next year, we already have more flowers coming, as we planned for five years ago. We are not necessarily responding to current events, we will continue to follow our expansion strategy that we have had.”

For more information:
Floral Union Farms
Mike Mooney
Email: mike@floralunionfarms.com 



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