The Indian flower markets, which were experiencing a lull since November, have picked up once again this Valentine’s season. The wedding season, which begins in November, was badly hit this time right after the demonetisation move, according to senior officials of the Indian Society of Floriculture Professionals (ISFP).
With the start of the season, India’s major export shipments for Valentine’s Day are heading to the UK which shares 35% of the domestic exports followed by Japan at 19%, Australia at 18%, Malaysia, Singapore and Holland. Total exports range from R56-70 crore annually.
According to Praveen Sharma, president, ISFP, this time the market picked up from January 15 onwards. Since the Valentine’s season is followed by lots of wedding dates, the markets have revived and flower growers are once again busy with domestic as well as export shipments, he said.
“In the year 2015 India had exported 16.5 million stems during Valentine’s season, whereas in 2016 it came down to 14 million flower stems. This year we are expecting to cross 16 million flowers stems,” Sharma said.
According to Shivajirao Bhegade, president, Pune District Flower Growers Association, Brexit has had a major impact and with strict quality norms introduced by Europe, it has become difficult for flower growers to meet quality standards. However, 1 crore stems are expected to be exported to Europe and UK this season with the last shipment expected to leave India on Wednesday, he said.
According to Sharma, Indian flower growers have faced one of the most difficult periods this financial year. “This season was supposed to be a very profitable one, had it not been for demonetisation. The dates of demonetisation coincided with upcoming marriage season in November, which was supposed to be beginning of peak season, after a slow market after monsoon. The extended monsoon had played its role in slowing the production till September and mid-October 2016. Flowers which are usually sold for R120-140 a bunch (20 stems) were sold for barely R60-80 per bunch,” he pointed out.
Moreover, for such products, the payment is usually by cash and when cash is limited, then consumers first prefer buying vegetables and other essentials,” he said.
India is the world’s largest rose grower which includes all kinds of roses including the export variety, he said. However, as an exporter, the country still has a long way to go and is a minor player compared to Kenya, which is the world’s largest exporter.
The Kenyan market exports flowers worth $ 600 million whereas the Indian export market is worth R55-60 crore.
Interestingly, via Holland, the global hub of flower trade where the world’s largest flower auction is held, Indian flowers have found their direct route to United Kingdom and other European markets like Greece and Italy, he said.
This strategy has played an important role in supplying fresh flowers to end consumers, due to direct delivery, avoiding process of shipping to Holland and passing through all the quality checks, repacking and re-exports to other countries from Holland.