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How the pandemic made the flower business wilt across the world

How the pandemic made the flower business wilt across the world

Coronavirus is not only proving fatal for people but its impact has also sucked the life of the flower industry around the world, as lockdown measures have turned major cities into ghost towns.

As the deadly virus spread, it came with its own rules. Social distancing, grounded flights, shuttered hotels and restaurants, it has also nibbled away at spending power and destroyed the sales of flower markets, among others. From Ecuador to Kenya and the Netherlands, the world’s major flower distributors have fallen on hard times.

Tanfer Celik, a Turkish florist, who runs Ecuador Florist in Istanbul’s Uskudar district, is one of the small-scale business owners fighting to survive under the perfect storm of the pandemic.

“The business has badly dropped in our best season, when people get married and organise other large gatherings. 70 percent of my business is gone,” Celik told TRT World , estimating similar losses for other florists across the country. Tanfer Celik, a Turkish florist, has been in the business for more than 10 years. Despite having serious disruptions in the flower sector, he is still optimistic about the business after the pandemic. (Tanfer Celik / TRTWorld) Major losses are also happening in other places like the Netherlands’ famous flower auction sites, where an average day used to see more than 100,000 transactions.

On March 16, Royal FloraHolland, a Dutch cooperative, which runs most of the country’s auctions including the biggest one in Aalsmeer, has seen its “blackest day” ever. Like Celik’s 70 percent losses, rose prices in the auctions dropped to €0.07 (8¢) a stem that day , which translates to a 70 percent loss from their price a year earlier.

According to recent estimates, the industry’s worldwide losses could amount to more than $8.5 billion.

The European country is the heart of global flower business as it accounted for more than 40 percent of the world’s flower exports until the emergence of the pandemic.

But things have profoundly changed with the deadly virus in the Netherlands and other places. Surplus flowers are destroyed at a waste place next to the flower auction in Honselersdijk, Netherlands, March 27, 2020. (Piroschka van de Wouw / Reuters Archive) Due to lockdown measures, many wedding houses have been closed and people are also not going out for shopping, fearing for their lives, Celik explains.

“People are not going out. When they don’t go out, they are not consuming anything. Because there is no consumption, the suppliers are not willing to produce anything. As a result, none of us are able to conduct our business,” Celik summarised the vicious cycle of the country’s flower sector.

“People don’t want to bring anything to their houses from outside. They fear to buy anything other than food,” Celik observes.

Major distributors from Kenya to the Netherlands have been reportedly left with no other option than dumping their flowers in the absence of customers as people continue to cancel their weddings, ceremonies and other events with large gatherings.

In Naaldwijk, where Royal FloraHolland runs one of its auction sites, florists were […]

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