Valentine season for flower growers in the country has begun on good note this year.
Last year in February, India exported about 17 million flowers, while this year till February 5, flower growers have exported 6 million. And with many large shipments due this week, flower growers are expecting to touch similar targets.
India’s two major airports are busy shipping flowers around the world, the majority of which go to the UK, Australia and West Asia. The UK is the biggest buyer of Indian roses with major share of 30%, followed by Australia and Japan with 19% and 17% of the total exports, respectively, Praveen Sharma, president, Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals, said. He expects to a 5-10% rise in export since growers have been better prepared for the season this time. According to Ramesh Anna, president, South Indian Floriculture Association (SIFA), Bengaluru, some 5 million stems have been exported so far and flower growers hope to reach targets, though Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday could have an impact on sales.
Initial fears of a warm winter in Pune’s Maval taluka, one of the largest hubs for floriculture, have been compensated by a fall in temperature between January 21 to 30, enabling most flower growers to see the first flush of roses at the right time slot between February 1 to 12, Sharma said. However, this year, Valentine’s Day is falling on Sunday, this is causing mixed feelings among market analysts. Since this falls on a weekend, office and college goers do not get an opportunity to exchange flowers, especially Sunday being the second day of the weekend.
However, the supermarket segment gets a boost, due to increased family outings on weekends. Sharma says there could be a 5-10% drop in the sale of the premium variety of roses due to the Sunday factor in the domestic market.
Significantly, the first ever export oriented flower project for roses was set up in year 1991, 25 years ago at Maval taluka, Pune. Since then, the flower industry has seen many ups and downs, Sharma pointed out. “For the last two years, Bengaluru airport has surpassed exports in comparison with Mumbai airport. The exports from Bengaluru accounted for 54% of total exports as compared with 45% from Mumbai airport. There is a reason for this increase from Bengaluru. Thanks to good infrastructure, the two major exporters from Maharashtra, based in the Sangli region, have diverted their exports from Mumbai airport to Bengaluru airport (about 12 hours’ travel time) due to the easy availability of air apace and competitive freight rates. This year, we are expecting a 10% hike in exports as compared with last year in volume terms; also, in value terms, we expect an increase of 10%, due to the depreciation in value of the rupee,” he said.
According to Tom Prince, president of Prince & Prince, Inc, market analysts from the US, “When the holiday falls on a weekend (as in 2016), the P&P historical data reveals that a slightly higher percentage of households purchase floral for Valentine’s Day, higher than predicted trend, but at a somewhat lower average purchase value, suggesting that supermarkets and other floral mass-marketers are likely expanding the Valentine’s Day floral market to new buyers when the holiday falls on a week-end.”