Elevated pricing in the run-up to Mother’s Day

Freshly-harvested Jumilea roses.

Figures published by the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products (VGB) and market analyst Floridata reveal that Mother’s Day celebrated in the UK and in several European countries, has fuelled a 10 per cent increase in Dutch flower and plant exports.

Dutch flower and plant exports reached the €684mn mark in April 2024, a month that included two additional trading days compared to the year before.

Dutch floral wholesalers look back with satisfaction at the export demand of flowers and plants in the run-up to Mother’s Day. Echoing this fact, Matthijs Mesken, the managing director of VGB, says, “Last year, exports declined over seven consecutive months, so this boost is something traders genuinely can use.”

The VGB is the trade body that represents almost 80 per cent of the total annual turnover in this industry.

Mesken notes that the rose is the most popular flower for Mother’s Day, a holiday celebrated in many countries throughout the world in honour of mums. Some countries celebrate on the same day every year, but in other parts of the world, the date changes annually. However, many countries follow the USA and give mothers gifts on the second Sunday of May.

This year, Mothering Sunday in the UK fell on 10 March, Mother’s Day in Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Hungary was on 5 May, and in Germany, Belgium, Italy, the USA and the Netherlands, it was on 12 May.  France, Poland and Sweden will honour their mums on 26 May.

In the UK,  Mothering Sunday was early and marked by a good uptick in business, seen in particular in the flower mass market segment.

With new Brexit border checks, Dutch exporters had anticipated a boom in houseplant exports to the UK. However, things turned out not as expected. There was no panic buying and plant hoarding, even if the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency, as of 30 April, has begun to physically inspect consignments of plants and five cut flower varieties (including orchids, Chrysanthemums (Dendranthema), carnations (Dianthus), Gypsophila, and goldenrods (Solidago) coming from mainland Europe (the EU). For this aim, new UK border control points (BCPs) have been set up.

Much is at stake. Mesken explains, “The UK is an important trading partner for the Netherlands. When it comes to flowers and plants, it is the Netherlands’ second export market, with Dutch exports to the UK worth nearly €1bn per year and an 18 per cent market share in total Dutch export value. Much to our relief we see that the British authorities so far have opted for random checks to avoid delays at the border. VGB will continue to follow the developments in the UK attentively.”

At the time of publication, news broke that Brexit border IT outages severely delayed the import of perishables, including cut flowers. Over the weekend of  11 and 12 May, lorries carrying perishables were held up for at least 20 hours at the UK’s busiest border post in Dover, impacting the shelf life of goods.

Even in the French market, not all that glitters is gold. Mesken elaborates, “All eyes are on the French market, which has seen a strong decline over the past few years. We hope that Mother’s Day will translate into a boost in flower and plant sales. We think that sluggish French demand is caused by an increase of direct trade flows between Africa, South America and France. Al o, more Spanish and Italian-grown plants are entering the French market, while it is also known that French have a strong preference for locally grown products.”

Another concern is the availability of flowers from Kenya and Ethiopia, where inclement weather decreases supply. As a result, prices for flowers grown in these two countries are well above average.

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