*Happy Bunch’s Notes: This article is written with the aim of sharing information based on what we—Happy Bunch—know and have experienced till now. As such, it might not apply—or apply to different extents—to other businesses who are in the flower trade.
Kindly note that this article is long read. Make sure to sit comfortably, and get some snacks & drinks ready before you dive in! 🙂 We hope you find it informative and useful.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Cut Flower Trade
When the COVID-19 pandemic first started in late December last year, most of us wouldn’t have imagined that it would escalate to the massive scale it is today. It has greatly impacted the safety, well-being & livelihood of so many people, businesses and industries across the world—flower industry included.
While not making the front-line news as much, the flower industry has taken a major blow from the outbreak. Flowers are perishables, and sadly, unlike vegetables, are not considered an essential item in life. As a result, the industry is more vulnerable to demand fluctuations, and has been in a very tight position since the outbreak intensified. When borders shut and panic arises, it is no surprise that buying flowers doesn’t make it on the shopping list for most people.
It pained our hearts every time we saw photos and videos of mass destruction of fresh flowers around the world – from grown flowers being mass-destroyed at flower farms to cut flowers being disposed of in piles by flower auction markets and florists. The sad news came from as close to home as Cameron Highlands, to further places like the Netherlands, Kenya and the US. In some cities, florists also gave out free flowers that were meant for events (that are now cancelled), and flowers that they weren’t able to sell before the lockdown orders were introduced.
In Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, March 2020:
In Naaldwijk, the Netherlands, March 2020:
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Post by Happy Bunch Malaysia, March 2020:
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Financial and non-financial impacts are enormous. While we haven’t managed to consolidate all the data yet, below are the numbers we’ve managed to gather so far:
- GLOBALLY: As of 2017, the overall global exports of cut flowers were worth $8.48 billion (S$12.11 billion). Before we can gather more information, we can make an educated guess that the financial impact would be at least 60-80% of that amount, if not more.
- THE NETHERLANDS: An estimated damage of €5 billion (S$7.76 billion) to the entire Dutch agriculture industry, which employs approximately 150,000 people, according to the Netherlands’ Agricultural and Horticultural Organisation.
- BRITAIN: An estimated loss of £687 million (S$1.21 billion) in plant sales in Britain by the end of June, according to Britain’s Horticultural Trades Association. In response, they have called for a rescue package from the government.
- KENYA: According to the Kenya Flower Council, 170 horticultural farms in Kenya are running seriously low on cash and have been losing over 250 million shillings (S$3.34 million) a day since 15 March. This roughly calculates to losing a sum of S$77 million as of 7 April. On top of that, some 150,000 people employed in the industry (majority of them being women) face the prospect of losing their jobs and income.
- COSTA RICA: Costa Rican flower farmers shared that they have lost approximately $25 million (S$35.69 million) from their inability to ship flowers to the US and Canadian markets.
- UNITED STATES: Farmgirl Flowers in the US shared in late March that they needed to dispose $150k (S$241k) worth of fresh flowers after the stay-home mandate was introduced.
- CHINA: The flower demand in China dropped to only 4-5% of the Valentine’s Day usual demand. Additionally, flower prices have gone down by 75%, and 80% of the businesses were required to close because of the outbreak earlier this year.
- JAPAN: Japan reported a decline in demand and prices. In response, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries encouraged the public to send flowers on White Day to help boost local demand and support affected farmers.
*As more information is made available, we will continue to update this list.
Click here to continue reading Part 2: The Impact of COVID-19 on Happy Bunch & How You Make It Better.