A Perfect Storm March 2021

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A Perfect Storm March 2021

There is plenty to be thankful for this year after a horrific 2020 for our industry. COVID is still with us, but infection numbers are down, there is a vaccine that is being distributed quickly, and most of our businesses are open and running enough to start playing catch up.

But 2021 still has its challenges and none more than March. There is a worldwide shortage of flowers right now so I thought I'd blog a little information about what we are seeing from our side.

March is traditionally a month where flower production is low. Growers plan for peaks at Valentine's in February, then Easter in April and Mother's Day in May. March is just a forgotten month when it comes to having flowers in full production. This year, a perfect storm of challenges on at least three fronts exacerbates the normal March growing trends.

Because of COVID-19 (or what we called the coronavirus) last year, many businesses were under mandatory shut downs. Growers around the world lost millions. Flowers were being thrown away, there was no where to go with these flowers globally, and many businesses have shut down permanently taking out year round production from the supply. 

Dutch scheme to boost wilting flower industry takes root | Netherlands |  The Guardian

Farms were looking a year out and not knowing if we would see a vaccine or any return of the business, as a result many growers cut back their seed, cuttings and plants for March this year beyond normal. We have been in a state of shortages on a smaller scale for the past 4-5 months.

Another compelling cause of low supply are the Grower in the US and South America moving towards cannabis. In the late 1970's the US government invested millions in Colombian floriculture in the war on marijuana production. Many US growers lost their businesses because of this US investment in Colombia and ironically after 40 years now we've decided its okay, and again the floral industry takes a hit. Farms in Colombia are growing cannabis for Canada and meeting other global demands and the US growers are quickly moving to growing Cannabis while it's still highly profitable. My guess is once the federal government legalizes marijuana we will see our South American friends again control the supply and maybe US growers will go back to flowers or just housing developments. We will have to wait and see.

March this year is the weather phenomenon "La Nina" which is dumping an extraordinary amount of rain and cool weather in the Andean Mountains. Growers have shared with us their pictures of flooded roads, hailstorm videos of greenhouses damaged and rivers of ice and hail flowing through warehouses on mountainsides.

The floral industry is going through some significant changes and the effects are being felt in a meaningful way right now expected to continue through Mothers Day. We don't know what the summer will bring but if March is any indication we could be in for a rough ride. I encourage everyone to book as far in advance as you can, be prepared for out of stock items and look to local wholesalers inventory to get what you can get.

This is the time for us to shine as importers, getting everything we can. I'm traveling to Ecuador in a few weeks to ensure we receive priority consideration when its time for our growers to decide who gets what production for Mothers Day. More now than ever we cannot rely on Miami companies, our farm direct sourcing is serving us well. For floral designers, I think its going to be time to shine with your design skills making beautiful arrangements not always with exactly what you want but using what you can get. The flowers don't make the arrangement, the skills of the designer do.

At Manatee Fresh your local importer, we will always be transparent to what we are seeing, use our volume to ensure we have as much product as needed and we will communicate as soon as possible when we see an interruption or required substitution because something did not ship. If we all continue to work together we will get through this just fine. We have so many great customers that work with us to make the best of these challenging times and we look forward to the continued improvement of our economy and industry.

Together we CAN sell more floral!   

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  • Robert Mclaughlin