US: Weddings suffering from massive flower shortage

There is currently a massive flower shortage as a result of the pandemic and it seems to be having lasting impacts on the wedding industry. Of course, some people might be wondering how a viral illness can affect flowers. But, what a lot of people don’t realize is that just as airlines shut down and concerts went away, many farms—from California to South America—also had to lay off people, notes Christy "CeCe" Todd of CeCe Designs and Events in Birmingham, Alabama.

"Most of us know somebody whose business closed during the pandemic. Unfortunately, floral farms weren’t excluded from that,” she says. “Where we might have had 3,000 floral farms, probably one-third of them had to close due to the pandemic.” The EU Flower and Live Plants sector and market, for example, lost an estimated $1.2 billion in the first six weeks of the pandemic alone, according to the International Flower Trade Association.

“During the shutdowns, crops were not tended to properly which had an impact on the production. But, it wasn’t necessarily felt until months later when those crops were being harvested,” explains Joan Wyndrum, florist and founder of wholesale flower company, Blooms by the Box. “Some flowers and greens were picked at the incorrect time just to meet the growing demands, which led to further shortages and subpar products.” 

This, coupled with lack of labor, was also a factor for these farms, notes Wyndrum, as it was near-impossible to keep things running without workers and products. But, one of the biggest hurdles farms had to face was transportation—both internationally and domestically. “When we can source a product, getting it to the U.S. or its final destination has been a problem. This domino effect has led to the flower shortage here in the U.S. that we are still trying to rebuild from,” she says.

Even for farms making a comeback, there are still challenges ahead. “Farmers are challenged by crops, which take years of growth, cutting, and seasoning,” notes Todd. “With the pandemic, there was a year where the crops were still producing, but they might not have been cut because there was no place to sell them, or they were unfortunately thrown away. So now, it's going to probably take another year for them to get back in rotation properly.” On top of the pandemic-related issues, South America had the worst rainy season it has ever had in years. “The rain damaged so much crop that, now, they are producing literally half of their regular output,” says Todd.

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