What if the momentum and opportunity for Certified American Grown Flowers extended past the borders of the United States?
Would the Certified American Grown program have value in another country?
What countries might want to selectively promote the high-quality, sustainably produced and unique variety of flowers that America’s flower farmers grow?
How could American Grown Flowers compete with the flowers already grown in China and those flowers already being imported from other countries, such as Holland and Colombia?
All good questions that a small delegation of America’s flower farmers and I recently headed to China to answer.Funded through an Emerging Market Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the trip’s purpose was exploratory and our first stop was Beijing. Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Protea, Ashley Nally of Calla Co., Mike A. Mellano, Ph.D. of Mellano & Co., Jason Kendall of Kendall Farms (joined in Shanghai) and Tyler Meskers of Oregon Flowers all served as representatives for this trade mission as we met with industry officials, wholesalers and farmers from China.
We learned a lot about the past and current trends in the Chinese floral industry from our official meeting with their national floral association. One of the organization’s vice chairs in attendance was the official floral designer for the Chinese government and was responsible for the flowers at the all government meetings, events and special installations.
We discussed the seasonality and availability of American Grown Flowers, highlighting the ability to source northern hemisphere flowers when the southern hemisphere falls out of season. Our colleagues also wanted to discuss greens, specifically eucalyptus. It’s amazing how much eucalyptus they consume in China.
We also toured the local Beijing flower mart where local flower farmers were trading. Local roses, snaps, stock and delphinium dominated the outdoor market area, while local lilies, chrysanthemum and carnations were found inside the market building with all types of greens and imported flowers, like tulips and protea.
It was very interesting to meet with local shop florists in Beijing, too. They shared how much e-commerce has changed the way the Chinese are buying their flowers. More and more people are purchasing flowers from mobile phones.