Russian flower growers urge government to restrict flower imports

Author: Eugene Gerden

MOSCOW, Russia: A group of leading Russian cut flower growers have called on the national government to restrict the amount of imported flowers on to Russian market. The outbreak of the coronavirus caused a dramatic drop in prices. According to sector body RNAF, Russian flower growers fear a massive dumping of cheap flowers from the Netherlands, Latin America and Africa onto the Russian market with the local producers finding themselves unable to compete.

According to Alexei Antipov, head of Russia’s National Association of Flower Growers (RNAF) –  a trade association uniting 11 flower growers and representing 80 per cent of Russian grown flowers- RNAF members have already signed and sent a petition to Russia’s Prime-Minister Mikhail Mishustin, urging him to impose restrictions on imported flowers with no further delay.

Antipov explains that amid the COVID-19 crisis in Europe, prices of fresh cut flowers in the global marketplace have decreased by almost 10 times, while the same situation is observed in in Russia’s home market.

According to data, provided by RNAF, prices for imported flowers from the Netherlands in the Russian market fell from  € 0.3–0.4 per stem last year to only  € 0.03–0.08 at present.

Experts of RNAF explain that the extreme pressure on flower prices is the result of the market’s freefall which was observed at Royal FloraHolland, the famous hub of the global flower trade. Images of 48% of unsold flowers ending up in the auction’s landfill went viral.

Antipov says, “We urged all members of the Russian flower industry to stop importing flowers. Imported flowers will cause flower prices to drop further in a market situation which is already dire.”

According to an official spokesman of Russia’s Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Russia is one of the world’s largest markets for cut flowers accounting for 15 per cent of global consumption. In this regard, according to Manturov’s spokesman and experts of RNAF, there is a high risk on dumping of cheap imported flowers onto the Russian market.

In accordance with the data, provided by experts of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade,  annual sales of cut flowers in Russia are currently estimated at 1.47 billion units. The  share of domestic producers is not more than 15 per cent of the market. The main supplies go through Belarus, which accounts for almost 50 per cent of imported flowers. Flowers, which enter  Russia via Belarus are primarily re-imports of flowers from some EU states, particularly the Netherlands and other major flower-producing countries, such as Ecuador.

So far, analysts of RNAF have already assured the Russian national government, that they will be able to satisfy domestic demand in the case of imposed import restrictions, especially since the demand for flowers in Russia has begun to decline, due to coronavirus.

In the meantime, representatives of the office of Dmitry Patrushev, Russia’s Minister of Agriculture said that a ban on imported flowers from Belarus, will meet serious difficulties, as Belarus is part of the common customs space with Russia. RNAF says that in turn the government is now considering the possibility of an  anti-dumping investigation against Belarusian suppliers.

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