Floral trade in the United States is facing critical times with a significant drop in flower imports as well as closure of quite a number of flower shops. This is partly a result of more and more consumers choosing ornamental plants over flowers.
Cut flower imports in the US have dropped from 850 to 670 million dollars over the past five years which represents a drop of more than 21%. Simultaneously, ornamental plant imports have increased from 630 to more than 1,050 million dollars, a 66% rise.
According to the latest figures from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Netherlands, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cut flowers, has practically stopped exporting flowers to the U.S. completely, the latest figures of demonstrate. The tiny country in northern Europe had a turnover of just 5 million dollars last year, in comparison to a turnover of 50 million dollars in 2010.
Colombia, the main supplier of cut flowers to the U.S., also reduced its exports: from 550 million dollars in 2010 to about 490 million dollars in 2014. In contrast, the country has vastly increased its sales of ornamental plants, which went from 13 million dollars in 2010 to 170 million dollars last year.
Ecuador remains the second largest supplier of cut flowers to the ‘States’, with exports worth 135 million dollars last year, a figure that has remained stable in recent years. Other suppliers, such as Mexico, Guatemala, Taiwan and The Netherlands, could barely reach a little more than 30 million dollars among all of them.
With regards to the supply of ornamental plants —such as orchids and tulips— to the U.S. market, Canada is increasingly stronger with exports worth over 320 million dollars in 2014. Next in line are The Netherlands (with around 190 million dollars), Colombia and finally Taiwan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and China.
Flower shops are the hardest hit by this decrease in flower imports. Grim numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of flower shops has decreased from 20,000 in 2006, to fewer than 14,000 in 2013.