The present day floral industry is a dynamic, global, fast-growing industry, which has achieved significant growth rates during the past few decades. It essentially consists of three major components: The growers, the wholesalers and the retailers whose businesses are quite intermingled. Making sure the additional quantities of flowers required for Valentine’s Day are delivered from the growers to the retailers is a highly sophisticated affair bringing flowers from all over the world to your local florists, fresh and ready to be made up into your Valentine bouquets.
Some flowers are sent packed flat in boxes, which enables large amounts of flowers to be packed in small spaces like aircraft holds. Other flowers cannot survive for long periods out of water such as orchids, gerberas and water lilies. These are either sent with their own sealed water container (called picks) on the end of each stem, this is on the more expensive or tropical flowers, or transported in buckets of water (this method of transport in water is often referred to as “Procona”). The latter method extends the life of flowers and reduces labour time as flowers are then ready for sale, but obviously also reduces the amount of flowers that can be transported as they are much heavier than dry packed flowers.
Flowers take a number of routes to the consumer, depending on where they are grown and how they are to be sold. Some growers cut and pack flowers at their nurseries, sending them directly out to the consumer by mail order. Some flowers are sent to packing companies, who grade the flowers and arrange them in bunches for sale to supermarkets or to deliver by mail order. Some flowers are graded and sleeved by the growers and sold at wholesale flower markets; the wholesalers then sell them on to florists who condition and arrange the flowers for the consumer.
The large UK wholesale warehouses use computer controlled cooling facilities to ensure the flowers are cooled to specific temperatures. This regulates their condition and growth and enables the flowers to be ‘brought on’ or ‘held back’ (basically stopping the flowers from growing). However, due to the higher demand required for special days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas additional warehouses are set up in order to cope, and these require those same working conditions.
Traditionally, the center of flower production has been near their largest consumers: Japan, Western Europe and North America were both major producers and consumers. The Netherlands remains the centre of production for the European floral market, as well as a major international supplier to other continents.
However experts believe the production focus has moved from traditional growers to countries where the climates are better and production and labour costs lower. The Netherlands, for instance, has already shifted attention from flower production to flower trading, though it plays an important role still in the development of floricultural genetics.
The new centres of production are typically developing countries like Columbia (second largest exporter in the world), Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kenya and India. Other Global player in the industry are Israel, South Africa, Australia, Thailand and Malaysia. New Zealand, due to its position in the southern hemisphere, is a common source for seasonal flowers that are typically unavailable in Europe and North America.
So when you receive or buy a bouquet of roses this Valentines Day they may well come form across the other side of the world.
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