By the Flower Wizard

US: Post Valentine’s report

"Rather than going over statistics, I felt a general overview of the holiday would be the Wizard's approach," says David Kaplan, also known as the Flower Wizard of Above All Flowers and New Bloom Solutions.

According to him, the statistics are very important, especially when it comes to the 5 W's: who, what, why, when, and where. "For that, I recommend you read all SAF's reports if you are a member. If not a member, I suggest you join."

"Another Valentine's Day is under our belt. For the most part, it looks like it was a very good holiday for most sectors of the industry. The weather in most areas across the country was warmer than normal for February, which made it much easier to get products to market as well as for the consumer to go out and get flowers or have them delivered. Tuesday is one of the better days of the week for Valentine's Day, and this year it lived up to its expectations."

Consumers were much more interested in roses and fillers and less in arrangements and mixed flowers, placing more demand on roses and less on miscellaneous flowers, he continues. "Rose demand is stronger on Valentine's than on any other day of the year by a factor that is larger than anyone can imagine. Small retailers can sell more Red Roses in one day than for several months. This year Red Roses were demanded in a greater percentage than in previous years, placing more stress on the market with a heavy concentration on fewer items."

Predicting history is always easier after the fact
Below, the Wizard summarizes Valentine's Day 2023.

  • Lots of blind shoots on roses resulted (much more than normal) because of weather, decreasing peak production and resulting in spreading out production more than usual. The red rose market was strong throughout the holiday. Some growers filled orders but had nothing extra for the open market.
    Transportation was extremely good on both air and ground as the crop was spread out over a longer duration. There was plenty of lift. Trucks and planes were on time with very few delays. We did not hear any negatives about UPS and Fed Ex.
    The crop came in shorter than expected. (Some farms even had 30 cm)This made the search for the 60s and longer even more difficult in reds and colors.
  • Quality, for the most part, was excellent.
  • Growers still insist on pinching colored roses and spray roses in big numbers, and as usual, the market was over-saturated with too many colors. Many of these were in shorter lengths, making them harder to sell and netting lower pricing.
  • The CPI rate for January 2023 was 6.4%, and December 2022 was 6.5%(not a big enough change for the Fed to be happy.
  • Jobs' report was too good again, not making the fed really happy, realizing they are not done yet with interest rate increases.
  • The Super Bowl may have helped.
  • 10-year high for flower and plant sales.
  • Consumers spent savings and covid relief money and purchased lots of flowers at all kinds of different outlets.
  • Higher-priced items were less demanded in many regions.
  • Weak prebooks helped farms that had products for the open market at higher prices.
  • Many flowers were sold at strong prices to competitor farms at high prices to fulfill orders.

Possible issues for the future related to Valentines 2023
According to the Wizard, quality logistic issues that could be problematic in the future. "What has been reported was a very disappointing holiday for some airlines. The airlines expected to move more flowers. One reason for this is that approximately 300 ocean containers were shipped for the holiday. The other reason it was "murder" for the airlines was with the flatter production peak, the usual volumes did not leave the regular expected days. Also, rates were not as strong as expected. Too much capacity was the result. With low rates and low volume, profitability became challenging. Some flights had trouble breaking even. Some freight providers are considering downsizing aircraft for the future. A 767 handles less cargo but can be more profitable than a 747 that does not have a full load."

Another major issue for the airlines, he mentions. is the exchange rate of the Colombian Peso. "With a very strong dollar, there is not enough export for the planes to have a decent southbound payload. Also, some large Mass Market producers had to fly aircraft to cities other than Miami because of late production needed to hit the market."

"Some people say who cares about the airlines. The airlines could change their strategy for Mother's Day and decide not to lease as many extra aircraft and position fewer planes in flower-producing areas. They could also raise rates to compensate for disappointing results from Valentines."

Other future issues to be concerned about
Wizard: "Blind shoots could result in a comeback crop that is not adequate for Mother's Day, causing shortages of high-demand rose varieties. Also, some farms may have production gaps this spring, resulting in shortages. Right now, it is too early to call."

On top of that, worker shortages existed in Colombia during the peak demand. "Jobs in other sectors that pay more are easier to find. The Venezuelan migrants have filled many of these shortages. The Floral industry is a labor-intensive industry. Issues in Ecuador from last June's strike have still not been resolved. According to Reuters on  Feb 24 reported, "A major Ecuadorian Indigenous organization said on Friday it will not continue talks with the government of President Guillermo Lasso, saying the government has not complied with accords and called for Lasso's resignation over alleged corruption." Another strike in Ecuador will create major problems in the market."

Preserved rose market increasing
Significant amounts of roses are being grown for the preserved rose market worldwide, he says. "Many florists are discovering the high quality and realizing these can be shipped by ground transport weeks before holidays and events and that you can get all the red you want for Valentine's."

In conclusion, the strong demand and tight market for Valentine's were extremely encouraging, especially after a lackluster fourth quarter of 2022 and a slow January. "It was great to see Valentine's sales come back with a vengeance!" Below are more points from the Wizard: 

  • We need everyone to have a good holiday, including transportation companies.
  • Lots more people in 2023 bought flowers than in past years for Valentine's.
  • We hope to avoid a recession and have the inflation rate drop as fast as possible.
  • We need day-to-day business to increase and be steady. We can not live on holidays alone.
  • We hope that the war in Ukraine ends and the Russians cease their aggression.
  • We hope we do not have to deal with any more Chinese Balloons.
  • Understanding the past can only help future planning. Optimism is the keyword. 

"As always, thanks for reading my rants… Thank you for being part of a great Valentine's 2023! "

For more information:
Above All Flowers / New Bloom Solutions  

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