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Today it’s as easy to buy a bouquet of fresh cut flowers as it is to pick up a loaf of bread and florists and the floral industry report a booming business.
Article Reference: Texas Department of Agriculture
Nationwide, sales of fresh cut flowers are rising faster in supermarkets than any other floral product. Supermarket chains have entered the floral business in a big way and florists also report a booming business. Americans are spending more than ever on fresh cut flowers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reports that U.S. consumers purchased some $8.5 billion worth of fresh cut flowers and greenery in 1998. Higher disposable incomes and an explosion of “how-to” home decorating and gardening television shows and Web sites have encouraged consumers to beautify their homes with one of nature’s loveliest gifts.
Cut flowers and greenery are also more accessible. Eighty percent of the country’s supermarkets have floral sections, including many that provide full floral services, promotional events and flower delivery. Florist shops, however, remain the major supplier of gifts for holidays, weddings and other special occasions. Florists also do a robust business with restaurants, hotels, caterers and event planners.
Overall, the U.S. floral industry includes more than 27,000 retail florist shops; 23,000 supermarkets with floral departments; more than 10,000 retail nurseries, lawn and garden supply stores; 950 wholesalers; and more than 9,000 growers. Without a doubt, the U.S. floral industry is blooming, but mostly with fresh flowers grown outside the country. Import wholesalers supply almost 90 percent of cut flowers to the nation’s florist shops and 45 percent to supermarkets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the value of U.S. imports of greenhouse and nursery products reached $1.1 billion in 1998. Cut flowers and cut greens accounting for 64 percent of that figure were imported from Latin America and the Netherlands. Domestic grower share of the U.S. floral market fell from 65 percent in 1991 to 47 percent in 1998. On the brighter side, production values for floriculture crops have been rising. Total wholesale value for U.S. floriculture crops jumped 13 percent from 1999 to 2000.
By providing selection, quality and reasonable prices, Texas growers are developing a market niche for specialty cut flowers and greenery and flowers delivery that is faster and fresher to retail markets. Specialty cut flowers represent a small segment of the state’s second-leading agricultural sector, the $1.2 billion nursery-greenhouse industry. Producers sell their colorful crops mostly to supermarkets with retail floral centers or directly to consumers at farmers markets and farm stands. A few sell to florists. Most produce various seasonal varieties sold in single or mixed bunches and bouquets.
With less than $500,000 in annual production, growers are barely tapping the state’s $234 million retail market of 3,000 florist shops, flower shops and floral centers, including supermarket floral departments. Nearly all the flowers sold at these outlets are foreign or domestic imports. Only about 25 growers in the Hill Country, East Texas and a few other locations grow commercial quality cut flowers. More are needed to capture a bigger share of the retail market. Vegetable and herb producers, greenhouse and nursery growers and traditional crop farmers willing to meet the challenges of intense horticultural production are among the likeliest candidates to convert this market potential into extra earnings.
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