Scott Salter is chief scientist at Lynch Group, a third-generation, vertically integrated wholesaler of cut flowers and potted plants for the Australian and Chinese floral markets. For FloraCulture International July-August edition, he wrote this column.
“Australia is an enormous and ancient island continent. Our climate is temperamental and sometimes tempestuous. Our soils, derived from vast mountain ranges that have eroded over thousands of millennia, are often depleted and fragile. Our native flowers have evolved in a ‘land of hard knocks’ and have grown to be tough, resilient, and long-lasting. Our continent is vast, giving us true tropical zones in the north, deserts in the middle, and wet, temperate rainforest regions in the south. Ours is a land of abundance and complex diversity, but one that can easily sneak up on you and remind you of your perilous position.
Australia is also one of the most urbanised nations on the planet. Our small population of only 25 million people are affluent, educated, and hard-working. We love our coffee; we produce high-quality wine and enjoy a bounty of fresh produce. We are blessed that flowers are all around us.
Demand for cut flowers in Australia far exceeds our local supply and has done for decades. During the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, the demand for flowers and plants was very high. However, as the planes stopped coming and the working tourists and students stayed home, our workforce of people to maintain and pick flower crops fell into very short supply. Our highly professional and highly valued grower base is growing older. Land values continue to accelerate. As airfreight supply into Australia transitioned from a flood to a dribble, servicing this explosion in interest in plants and flowers became even more difficult. Levels of substitutions were high. Prices in the market rose and have remained at an all-time high.
Australia’s position as an advanced agriculturally producing island confers natural quarantine imperatives and advantages. With our strict biosecurity laws, supplying our country with fresh-cut flowers, bulbs, and young plants is a real and constant challenge. However, with the right partner, these challenges are far from insurmountable.
Our challenge is to ensure that flower-loving Australians have fresh flowers available to them, where and when they want them, that present great delight and great value.
As an industry, we are determined to meet that challenge. Our industry is sure to thrive. We will continue to attract new generations of leaders and growers. We will continue to attract levels of investment into our industry that will secure a sustainable supply of flowers for our local markets. We will also continue the exciting task of building the capacity of our Native Flower production bases to serve the booming markets of Asia, North America, and Europe.”