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Joost Bongaerts, Florabundance

“There is a prevailing expectation that this year’s Mother’s Day floral sales may exceed those of 2023”

As Mother's Day is approaching, the floral industry in the United States looks forward to one of its peak seasons. We spoke to Joost Bongaerts, CEO of Florabundance (a US-based flower wholesaler), as he explored the sentiments and expectations for Mother's Day floral sales in 2024. He says: "Although it is too early for retailers to predict sales figures, conversations with growers, exporters, and wholesalers point out that there is a prevailing expectation that this year's floral sales may exceed those of 2023."

Being a wholesaler that purchases flowers for the US market from Latin-America, the Netherlands, and certified American growers, Bongaerts speaks many actors in the floral industry. He shares some of their sentiments and experiences, saying: "American growers told me that most crops came in on time despite the past months' cooler and rainy weather. Some reported more and earlier prebooks which led to a scrambling for products. Likewise, South American growers reported that the flower industry is optimistic, as there are indications that this year will be a little better than last year. At Holex, in the Netherlands, there's a heavy order volume. Holex is one of the main players when it comes to delivering cut-flowers for the American market. The sales department had to jump onto the packing floor to assist the packing crew to get things done in time." Bongaerts adds.

The Holex packing floor in de Kwakel, the Netherlands

"From a Latin-American grower, I heard that in Ecuador, there is an overproduction of roses. Last month a lack of electricity, and energy black-outs (caused by El NiƱo) has had a devastating impact on Ecuadorian and Peruvian economies, especially in the rural towns. Colombia has seen a 20 % increase in salaries, and gasoline cost have been doubled by the government, also inflation is very high." Further, Bongaerts highlights that the overall quality is "pretty good" as the weather around Mother's Day has been good.

Debbie Kline, Florabundance Sales manager, shows a sample bouquet of assorted flowers

Aside from being the CEO of Florabundance, Bongaerts is a liaison for ThatFlowerFeeling. This ongoing US-wide national ad campaign via social media channels aims to increase everyday US flower consumption. Bongaerts comments: "Currently, US flower consumption tends to be holiday-based, and the industry is quite fragmented. I believe that we can increase daily flower consumption if the industry agrees on one common goal: advertising flowers. It will take time, it's an education process, and it needs advertising.

Yet, Americans' love for flowers is more than a tradition; it's a burgeoning culture, especially among younger consumers. For this reason, the ThatFlowerFeeling campaign focuses on females aged 25-30. The campaign is themed Self-Care Made Easy. The campaign taps into this sentiment by promoting flowers not just as gifts but as a means of self-expression and emotional well-being. This message resonates strongly in today's fast-paced world, where taking moments for personal care and reflection is increasingly valued. A ThatFlowerFeeling sleeve, developed by Koen Pack, will be available soon. The sleeve consists of sustainable and recyclable material. So far, over 100 million consumers have watched the ThatFlowerFeeling ad," Bongaerts explains.

He continues: "Despite economic uncertainties and the ever-present challenge of inflation, the floral industry has shown resilience. The luxury of flower giving, often viewed as an accessible indulgence, continues to thrive. The shift towards online shopping has been a game-changer for many in the retail floral industry. Enhanced online platforms and advanced logistics have made flower gifting more convenient than ever. Consumers appreciate the ease with which they can now send flowers across distances, relying on the efficiency of local and favorite florists to deliver fresh, beautiful bouquets on time. Many retail florists have adapted and increased their online presence since the pandemic. They are marketing directly, getting orders in advance because there will be many last-minute buyers."

The Florabundance marketing team highlights that Mother Day's preferences for flowers can vary widely across the United States, but that the demand for flowers in bold colors remains. The company observed a preference for Peonies, Garden Roses and Ranunculus. They also see that personalized arrangements that feature a mix of traditional and specialty flowers are also on the rise, showcasing consumers' interest in making Mother's Day special and memorable.

A customer creating an arrangement in the Florabundance designer corner

"With a collective optimistic outlook from growers to retailers, the floral industry is well-prepared for a successful Mother's Day in 2024. Supported by campaigns like "ThatFlowerFeeling," the industry is reaching and educating a new generation of flower buyers, redefining the role of flowers in everyday self-care. We see a lot of advertising via social media, radio, and television reminding the public about Mother's Day to say it with flowers. We wish everyone a happy Mother's Day especially all the moms who work in our industry. We are looking forward to hearing how Mother's Day retail sales have been," Bongaerts concludes.

For more information:
Joost Bongaerts
[email protected]