Have you wondered how your florist delivers the perfect posy of peonies to the recipient? Whether you want to say thank you, happy birthday or congratulations flowers delivery is the most heartfelt way of saying it. And once you learn about the high-speed supply chain that supports the flower industry, you are sure to appreciate your flowers much more.
How do flowers change hands?
Flowers typically travel thousands of kilometres from the farm to the florist, enhancing the lives of each stakeholder they come in contact with.
Flowers are grown in floriculture farms in countries like Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia, and Malaysia. Kenya, for instance, exports to nearly 50 countries, including the USA, China and Australia. Floral exports consist of 1% of Kenyan GDP, and the uptick in flower demand has contributed to the post-pandemic recovery of the Kenyan economy.
Flowers such as Carnations, Alstroemeria, Lilies, and Roses are harvested when they are ready and sent in cold storage containers to international markets. Traditionally, flowers were auctioned in large solemn halls in European countries, such as the Netherlands. The advent of online auctioning has given buyers and sellers greater freedom to mutually determine prices via more decentralised means.
Imported flowers are subject to strict biosecurity tests to ensure that they do not introduce any alien pests into the sensitive Australian ecology. About 21% of the flowers may contain live pests in every batch, which are carefully treated before deeming the flowers ready to be sent to the local market.
In Australia, flower markets, like the one in Sydney, receive flowers from both local and international growers before commercial florists buy them. The flower market in Sydney accounts for nearly 70% of the flowers sold in NSW and is a significant player in the flower trade.
The largest buyers of flowers at local markets are usually florist training academies and commercial florists or flower retailers. They are the ones you would typically see in the business districts or order online from.
Their biggest enemy is temperature. Flowers are very sensitive to high temperatures and quickly wither if they are not carefully preserved. It takes at least four days, for instance, for a stalk of rose to arrive at the florist’s table. Any further temperature fluctuation can accelerate its deterioration. Electricity for cooling accounts for nearly 50% of any florist’s operating expenses, which customers tend to forget.
Additionally, some florists are committed to local growers and may spend more on local flowers than on the cheaper imported ones. However, locally grown flowers offer the advantage of being fresh, resilient, and environmentally sustainable.
If you are an offline customer, you would mostly walk into a store, pick your flowers and ask for a bouquet to be made to order. However, the pandemic has shifted nearly 80% of the customers online. An increasing number of bouquets are ordered online to be delivered across cities. Most customers choose to send anniversary wishes, mother’s day wishes, and congratulations via flowers delivery.
As flowers are a luxury commodity, their demand is closely linked to the macro-economic health of a country. For instance, during the pandemic, demand fell to nearly zero in the first few weeks, causing global losses of greater than $ 1.2 bn. But demand is improving by the day, and the floral industry is looking forward to events such as Christmas, New Year’s and most importantly – Valentine’s Day to help them stagger back to normalcy.
Flowers are the essence of human connectivity. The highly perishable beauties are carefully cultivated, cut, transported and sold to you in labour and technology-intensive chains. With such high levels of effort behind each bud, what better way to say it than with flowers?