For years, flower prices and sales were flat: companies wondered how they could convince consumers to buy flowers with as much regularity as milk and bread. Then the pandemic changed everything. Consumers began to see flowers as a way to connect with loved ones and brighten their homes, and sales skyrocketed.
“At this point, we don’t have to change consumer mentality, we just have to keep the mentality in place,” says Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF, vice president at Mellano & Company and president of the Society of American Florists’ board of directors. The way to do that, Castellano Keeler and others say, is through an industry-funded, national floral marketing campaign.
“Every segment of our industry has the opportunity to benefit from a well-organized promotion order,” says Castellano Keeler. She is one of 12 people on a drafting committee that has been working across industry segments to develop a proposal for a floral promotion order under the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The AMS oversees many promotion orders for other industries, from cotton and eggs to avocados and Christmas trees, to help those industries leverage funds and create research and marketing opportunities.
Michelle Castellano Keeler of Mellano & Company, Oscar Fernandez of Equiflor/RioRoses, and Harrison “Red” Kennicott of Kennicott Brothers Company, are among members of the drafting committee that is proposing a national floral promotion order. Castellano Keeler, Fernandez, and Kennicott will discuss the proposal Nov. 16 during the Society of American Florists’ virtual panel discussion.
The proposal for the floral promotion order will be the subject of a SAF virtual panel discussion on November 16th.
The most recent draft of the floral promotion order proposes a mandatory assessment on an estimated 700 domestic growers and 500 importers whose annual gross sales are more than $100,000. Domestic growers would be assessed half of a percent of their gross sales and importers would be assessed 1 percent of their gross sales. The USDA would oversee the collection of assessments from domestic growers on a quarterly basis. Customs and Border Protection would collect the assessments from importers based on the value of the imported flowers and foliage at the time of entry.
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