A Valentine’s Day crisis: Is the flower industry the latest pandemic casualty? – SmartCompany – February 2022

AFTA founding member Craig Musson provided comment to SmartCompany, ahead of Valentines Day in 2022, about supply chain issues, wasteage and subsequent pricing challenges due to the limited availability of freight carriage on outbound flights from exporting countries.

Around 1500 tonnes of fresh flowers are being dumped every week overseas while the local industry grapples with a widespread flower shortage, the Australian Flower Traders Association (AFTA) says.

AFTA, which represents 90% of flower imports to Australia, says florists have been working “around the clock” ahead of Valentine’s Day as a rapidly tightening global freight crisis chokes business.

It couldn’t’ve come at a worse time — imported flowers make up around 40% of all cut flowers and foliage, and the majority of these are roses — that’s because roses require “mild all-year-round temperatures, and day lengths as well as high altitudes, conditions which are not present in Australia”, AFTA founding member Craig Musson continues.

At the moment international growers in Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia and India are unable to get affordable freight space to ship to global markets, seeing huge flower wastage strangle business for about 2500 florists in Australia — and the pressure is not about to alleviate any time soon, Musson warned.

“During November and December last year, the global freight and logistics industry experienced a virtual gridlock, affecting the movement of fresh-cut flowers and foliage around the world, including Australia,” he says.

Musson says airlines are actually offloading freight — including flowers — to make room for passenger luggage or other, more valuable freight, amputating a logistics pathway for fresh cut flowers.

“There is little doubt that prices will increase and create difficulty for florists whose businesses rely on these calendar events dates to generate sufficient revenue to sustain them throughout the year,” he says.

He warns a shortage of flowers today for Valentine’s Day and again on Mother’s Day (May 8) is almost certain, and that means prices will skyrocket for the consumer.

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