Trends and current challenges of the flower industry in ColombiaJanuary 10, 2019
Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers after the Netherlands. Their flower exports to the United States have grown rapidly since the first shipments were made 50 years ago. Today, the US flower market it is by far the most important, representing 75% of exports. Russia is the second largest customer, but very behind with 5% of flower exports.
But the US market has been more of a challenge, especially because of the changing tastes of consumers.
The three main selling markets of the Colombian flower industry are the USA, Russia and Japan. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas represent more than 50% of the annual demand in the US market. Planning to meet this demand at specific times of the year is a challenge, especially in terms of recruitment and training of temporary labor.
As in the USA, there is a great demand in Japan for flowers intended for special events, such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Higan (days of the spring and fall equinox when services are carried out). in memory of the ancestors). The Japanese buy flowers more frequently for home decoration, floral art or special events. On the other hand, Japanese consumers are willing to pay a higher price for better quality. This means that Colombian flower producers who meet the requirements of the Japanese market can enjoy the benefits of a more stable demand and a higher profit margin.
The flower industry, like most agricultural industries, is unpredictable and requires investments in technology, land and material. To buy seeds and plants, companies usually ask for loans and return them after harvest. There are two restrictions on loans from private banks in Colombia: the high interest rate and the reluctance of banks to grant loans to volatile and high risk companies.
Another important point to consider in relation to the Colombian flower industry is the workforce. This sector employs mainly women who have little education. It is difficult to underestimate the benefits for these mainly rural employees who have few employment opportunities outside the home, especially in the formal sector. In addition, 69% of employed women are heads of households. These women enjoy the benefits of obtaining higher income, acquire their own home, a greater social network and higher self-esteem. Their jobs also change the power dynamics in their homes as they gain greater economic autonomy.
Colombia’s flower sector has been successful due to international demand. This level has been achieved without official intervention. However, to continue growing, the industry needs more government support and better working conditions. Despite its long history, this industry still has a long way to go before becoming the largest in the world.
More extended and original article in Spanish here