It's Valentine's Day!

It's Valentine's Day! Florists and retailers are still in the middle of the rush, so no final conclusions can be drawn yet, but all over the world, the holiday is different compared to last year, which was filled with optimism. This year, weather seem to have been a major challenge in Latin America and Africa, delaying production. Also, pre-books seemed to be in later than usual - and for some, they were even lower- and prices at the Dutch auction were lower than expected. Production and transportation costs are high, and the florist and, eventually, the end consumer will feel it. The response of the end consumer and, therefore, the results of Valentine's Day 2023 will be evident after today, so in this article is an overview of the run-up to this holiday.

As a result of the energy crisis, the supply of Dutch flowers and plants is less than in previous years. While this causes high purchase prices, it also causes concern: how much more is the consumer willing to pay? Another consequence is that trade is more actively looking for a cheaper product from Africa or South America, all in all a worrisome situation for the position of Dutch ornamental plant cultivation in the global playing field.

That is the conclusion of the the Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products (VGB) in an article on the first export figures of this year. These are slightly lower (-1%) than in previous years, with flowers doing slightly worse than plants.

The red rose, the symbol of Valentine's Day, also comes more often from abroad. The supply from the Netherlands is 1/3 smaller than last year, Michel van Schie, spokesman for Royal FloraHolland, tells Dutch broadcast NOS. "This gap is partly filled by roses that are flown in." In addition, there is a run on everything red, and flowers are selling well across the entire range, as we saw last week.

At the auction in Aaslmeer, around 180 million roses were traded in the run-up to Valentine's Day. The price per stem is on average, 40 cents, auctioneer Menno Nan tells Dutch broadcast De Telegraaf. An excellent price, but not what the Dutch grower wants for them. This is also because consumers are not willing to pay the price that is actually required. "If everyone made a good living from it, a bunch of 'premium roses' should cost €80," Nan says, "but for more than €50, a florist won't get it sold." 

"Today, the industry is struggling. The margins are shrinking by the day. Growers are struggling to supply the market and maintain Kenya's position as a key producer of cut-flowers", says Clement Tulezi in a twitter post today. The run-up to Valentine's Day has been a challenge for many Kenyan growers. On top of the high costs, production was down at many farms due to the weather. "Nights are cold and very dry, and this is delaying production. This year, already one flight for Valentine's Day was canceled due to short supply", Sachin Appachu told us at the beginning of this month. Unfortunately, also the prices at the auction were not as at the level as expected, about 15% lower, but fortunately, they increased when Valentine's Day came closer. "However, last year was better in terms of volume of sales and revenue."  

United States
Valentine's Day is still the second largest "floral holiday" for the U.S, Prince & Prince market survey estimates and forecasted $3.6 billion dollars in U.S. consumer floral purchasing for Valentine's Day 2023. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists have reached 1.15 billion cut flower inspections this season, they reported on February 10. "This marks the fourth straight year that CBP has surpassed 1 billion cut flowers, with this year's numbers expected to surpass 2022 by the end of the season. Most shipments come from Colombia and Ecuador, most going to Miami and New York. The most popular flowers remain roses, mixed bouquets, and chrysanthemums."  

And as everything is getting more expensive, also the prices for flowers for the end consumer will be higher. "Prices have gone up 15-20% for this holiday," Michael Cherry, owner of Hayes Florist in Florida, told "Mainly because of fuel charges and supplies, prices went up 25-50% post-COVID, and that was mainly the supply chain in China. All of the supply raised for stands, for flower arrangements, and funerals." He also added that freight charges for flowers imported from South America have gone up, forcing florists to increase their prices. 

Most of the flowers sold in the U.S. are imported, and many come from Colombia. Nearly 6 billion stems per year are being produced, of which 700 million are being shipped to the U.S. for Valentine's Day, reports Asocolflores. But Colombia sends flowers to many more countries, more than 100 countries all over the world, and 80% of the airfreight exports of this country are even flowers.

The weather has been the main challenge, delaying the production of roses and decreasing the production of other crops like hydrangeas. "The production was about 24% lower due to the dry weather, Catalina Arango of Flores Del Este told us. But demand was high. 

Eager to see what a day at the farm looks like during the Valentine's Day season rush? In the video below, El Tiempo paid a visit to Agrícola El Redil, in the municipality of Nemocón (Cundinamarca) in the middle of their Valentine's Rush. At that time, they expected to export around 3.2 million stems for this holiday, of which 80 percent will be shipped to the United States.

Also, in Ecuador, the weather has been one of the major challenges. "First, it was ahead by the end of December, and all the crops stopped at bay, then beginning of the month of January was late by which the late peak came out; all this experienced most flower farms located in
Pichincha and south towards Cotopaxi", Naranjo Roses told us. In addition, growers faced the aftermath of the volcano's ash fall. According to Expoflores' data, there is an increase of 5.54% in total export volume/ Also at Naranjo Group , their exports increased. "We exported around 5 million stems, growing 20% compared to last year's Valentine's Day. And there were not so many problems for cargo for this Valentine's Day season, Carlos Gomez, Director of the board of Directors at Naranjo, adds. "It could be handled with better prices and with great efficiency." 

Also, Rosaprima, who had to deal with Ecuador's unpredictable weather, told us that they were pleased with the season. Pleased Valentine's Day. "We have been able to fulfill all orders on time, and we feel it has been a smooth holiday so far. We are hoping that our customers see strong sales this holiday. Now, we are hoping that our customers see strong sales this holiday", Jibaja concludes. 

Even though, the big rush is expected today at florists, a Saskatchewan florist told Global News that more lovers are shopping early, steadily demanding flowers despite inflation. Quinn Brown, co-owner of Quinn and Kim's Flowers, said they're seeing a lot more advance orders and offering more options for shoppers on a budget, but that it's hard not to notice the impact of inflation in all aspects of the business.  

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