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Korean florists under siege: Declining demand and soaring prices

Florists in Korea are grappling with a complex crisis wrought by dwindling demand for blossoms and soaring prices. As the traditional peak sales period, the graduation season, sees a dip in demand due to a shrinking student population, flower prices have sky-rocketed, leaving florists like Kim Yang-soon, battling with a dual onslaught.

Graduation season, a time of celebration marked by the exchange of vibrant blooms, is experiencing a significant downturn. The reason? An alarming reduction in the number of students graduating from school. The Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation reports that the price of popular graduation bouquet flowers, such as freesias, hydrangeas, and baby’s breath, has soared by up to 35.4 percent from pre-pandemic levels in 2020. This trend is in stark contrast to the global floriculture market forecast, which expects growth from USD 53.6 billion in 2022 to 101.9 billion by 2032 at a CAGR of 6.6%.

A demographic decline
The student population in Korea has dwindled alarmingly, with the number of people aged 6 to 17 falling by more than one-third from 8.1 million in 2000 to 5.31 million in 2021. Consequently, the number of elementary graduates has slipped from 615,000 in 2000 to 451,000 in 2021, a trend projected to continue with a further 16.7 percent reduction over the next five years.

Florists and customers feel the pinch
Florists like Kim Yang-soon are feeling the pinch, with at least a 50 percent drop in graduation season demand at her flower shop. Customers, too, are bearing the brunt of the crisis, either shelling out more for fuller bouquets or substituting preferred flowers with more affordable alternatives due to the inflated prices. The struggling domestic flower farms, which have seen their lands shrink from 6,429 hectares in 2012 to 4,229 hectares in 2022, are losing ground to cheaper flower imports, further compounding the florists’ challenges.

As the industry navigates this turbulent landscape, the reality remains that the floristry business in Korea, once a vibrant tableau of colors and scents, is now wilting under the weight of demographic change and inflated prices.


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