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ASCM Insights

Flower Supplies Droop Ahead of Valentine’s Day

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It wouldn’t be a holiday in the 2020s without a shortage of some festive item. Now, we’re hearing that fresh flowers may be difficult to find and not at the price point you’d like this Valentine’s Day. And the challenges are expected to continue into the summer, putting a thorn in the wedding event floral industry as well.

The problems behind this shortage stem back to 2020. During lockdowns, demand for fresh flowers wilted, and many crops were abandoned. One-third of the world’s floral farms — more than 3,000 — and about 250,000 jobs in the industry disappeared between 2019 and 2021.

Next week on Valentine’s Day, consumers can expect to pay $10 to $50 more for a dozen roses, as prices for high-end flowers have blossomed as much as 90%. To find a gift that won’t empty your wallet, florists advise ordering early; selecting a non-rose option; or, if your special someone must have roses, choosing a color other than red or pink.

Unfortunately, people purchasing flowers that are grown for the event industry don’t have such cut-and-dried options, as the supply chains are quite intricate. Most flowers sold in the United States come from Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya and the Netherlands. There are some U.S. flower farms, but they tend to grow rarer varieties because they can’t compete in price or volume with, say, Ecuador’s roses or the Netherlands’ peonies.

Event flowers are also distinct in that they’re specifically bred to reach peak bloom on the big day. After being harvested, they’re sold at auctions or wholesale markets, packaged and temperature-controlled, transported to warehouses and other distribution points, and eventually delivered to flower distributors. Wedding florists buy from these distributors to guarantee necessary volume and variety, then supplement with flowers purchased from local markets to make bouquets and smaller arrangements or to add accents.

Farmers have restarted planting, but it’s a lengthy process. Meanwhile, the industry is grappling with international and domestic logistics challenges and the ongoing labor shortage. Also, the impact of climate change can’t be ignored, with a rainier season in South America decreasing crop yields for roses and carnations and droughts in California challenging domestic growers.

So, how is the industry going to supply the 2.5 million weddings expected to take place in the United States this year? Again, florists recommend flexibility, as well as a bit of creativity. If you’re willing to hand over control, your florist will make the most of the flowers they can find, designing something that’s both beautiful and unique.

Skills in bloom

Pandemic-related supply disruptions have altered nearly every industry, and navigating this complexity requires in-depth procurement knowledge. ASCM will help you plant the seeds of your procurement journey with our Supply Chain Procurement Certificate. This program gives you essential procurement insights, including how to develop a strategic sourcing strategy, manage purchase orders and perform effective supplier cost comparisons. After all, a peony saved is a peony earned.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through ascm.org.

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