Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Globalization touches every part of our lives. Floral design has certainly not been the exception to the trend. This has already had tremendous impact on the floral industry in the last several decades and will continue to do so.
When cut flower growers in Central and South America began shipping their products to North America, this put many American flower farms out of business. Some found it more profitable to focus on growing specialty flowers instead of the common ones. The specialty market has been less affected by globalization. Hawaii can still compete because it tends to produce tropical-like flowers, such as orchids and anthuriums.
A similar trend has been developing elsewhere as well in the world. The Netherlands flower auction continues to be the hub for Dutch growers. Their flowers are still exported far and wide. However, when production costs began to inch up in industrialized western Europe, these growers saw opportunities in Poland and other areas of eastern Europe, parts of the former Soviet Bloc, where land and labor costs tended to be somewhat cheaper.
Asia now has many flower farms as well. Some Asian growers choose to focus on specialty products, such as orchids. While it isn’t true in those parts of war-ravaged areas of the continent, Africa is an up and coming source of flowers that we will surely be hearing a lot about in the next few decades.
With regard to globalization, this is a double edged sword. The down side is that it puts people and firms out of business in developed countries as production tends to move offshore. At the same time, this has made flowers more available to more people. Walk into almost any store now in America—even convenience stores—and you will see bouquets of flowers for sale. Granted, many of these products will not be premium quality. But the fact remains flowers now reach all segments of the market.
This has also made it possible for us to enjoy stems that might only be available during one season of the year in America. Take peonies, for example. We can buy fresh, American-grown ones in the spring. Later in the fall, ones from Australia are imported.
When we hear about globalization, the comments are often negative, focusing on exploitation of the worker in less developed areas. In the case of flowers, this isn’t always true. Overall, the fair trade movement is having an effect. This movement may have started with coffee, but it has since spread to chocolate, flowers, and other crops. There are various non-profits that are involved in the fair trade of flowers. They certify that the firms applying for membership meet the necessary requirements.
Many reputable international firms that produce flowers have assumed responsible roles with respect to their workers. They provide workers a fair, living wage based on the cost of living in the local area. Typically, they offer the same benefits if not more than many American companies. These benefits include day care, educational opportunities, and health care.
Despite the prevalence of globalization, consumers can still find ways to support local flower farms. For some years now there has been a movement in many American communities to get consumers to buy locally grown food. The same thing could be done with flowers, but this simply doesn’t seem to be happening. However, individuals can choose to do this.
Become familiar with the local farms that are growing and selling cut and dried flowers. Visit the farm outlets, and farm stands. Or buy at the local farmers’ markets whenever possible. This is one way to help money stay in your local community.
Complaining about globalization will not help. Instead, do what you can to buy locally or from sources offering flowers that are offered as part of the fair trade movement.