Mother’s Day is the biggest flower sales day of the year. Yet ABN AMRO has noted that people don’t necessarily give flowers on Mother’s Day any more. In fact, the popularity of flowers and plants as a Mother’s Day gift has plummeted in the past five years: in 2008, 63% of Dutch people gave their mother, mother-in-law, grandmother or partner flowers or a plant; this figure fell to 52% in 2013.
ABN AMRO has observed a rising demand for mixed bouquets and flower arrangements, and more consumers are choosing ready-made bouquets. Roses are the most popular flower for Mum, and the Dutch are also keen to give her red flowers or a mix of colours. Although their popularity is falling, flowers and plants are still the main Mother’s Day present. ABN AMRO does not expect this to change in 2014, given the rise in imports and flower auction sales. Mother’s Day is still quite popular in other major (European) sales markets, with flowers being the most popular present there too.
Expensive euro causes exports to fall
Flower exports fell by 3.5% in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period a year ago. After rising slightly in January (+1.9%) and February (+0.9%), exports collapsed in March (-11.1%). There were notable differences among the main export countries, with the biggest declines evident in France (-11.3%), Russia (-6.7%) and Italy (-8.0%). Exports of cut flowers to Russia – the Netherlands’ main export country in Eastern Europe – fell mainly due to the cheap ruble. Geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine also resulted in Russia importing far fewer flowers in the first quarter than it did a year ago. The sharp rise in exports of potted plants to Ukraine is therefore remarkable. ABN AMRO stresses that this growth was achieved mainly in January and February, while March saw a decline of 60%. ABN AMRO also expects that a further drop in exports to Eastern Europe could put greater pressure on prices. Although ‘only’ 5% of this industry exports to Russia, there is hardly any scope within the eurozone to handle this additional supply while maintaining margins.
Sale in supermarkets presents opportunities
ABN AMRO believes that exports to existing markets could benefit from more professional concepts within growing sales channels such as supermarkets, DIY centres and home furnishing shops. Supermarket sales have huge potential because of the high frequency of visits combined with the high percentage of impulse purchases of flowers and plants. Dutch suppliers could respond to this by producing in closed chains, increasing the scale and having chains work together. ABN AMRO believes this would result in greater diversity and a broader range of products. It notes that the sector is moving towards vertical closed chains for floriculture products, with growers and traders acting as partners or chain directors. All links in the chain share information, giving individual members insight into products, sales numbers, margins and losses. ABN AMRO believes this development has a lot of potential: higher sales, more stable margins and lower losses for all links in the chain.