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The Fresh Flower Shortage in the US

What the fresh flower shortage Means for Your Wedding

The pandemic caused a disruption for many industries and supply chains. In the last year we’ve seen shortages of the most unexpected items ranging from toilet paper to aluminum to semiconductor chips. And now we are seeing a shortage in the floral industry that could have an impact on couples planning weddings in 2021.

What is the cut flower shortage?

Like other industries, the supply of flowers relies on numerous steps and paths of distribution that are fragile to upset. Due to the stress on the industry caused by COVID, poor weather, and other factors, the demand around the world for cut flowers is much higher than the supply resulting in a shortage. (1)

Why do we have a flower shortage?

At the onset of the pandemic, the global economy came to a halt. Many flower distributors temporarily shut down to cut costs. COVID-19 slowed flower production internationally as many producers and flower farms downsized operations due to health concerns and decreased demand. (2) Now we are dealing with the downstream effects of this long term decreased production.

On top of that, many flower producing regions experienced inclement weather last season which further decreased production and reduced growing. Colombia and Ecuador in particular experienced heavy rain and flooding due to hurricane season and the weather phenomenon known as La Niña. (3)

Import delays due to COVID, a reduction in international flights, (4) and trucking company staffing shortages have all further exacerbated the supply chain issue. (5) Fresh flowers can’t sit for long and any delay results in unusable flowers. 45% of the flowers managed by the floral industry die before they are even sold. (6)

What does that mean for couples planning weddings?

The supply-demand imbalance is causing price increases in fresh flowers and less selection for wedding planning couples. Canadian cities are already seeing flower prices increase as a result of the supply issues (7) and India saw cut flower prices nearly double for Tamil New Year in April 2021. (8)  South American grown florals like carnations, roses, and foliage are especially in short supply as Colombia and Ecuador were hit particularly hard by bad weather last Winter. In addition, filler flowers like limoniums and asters are out of stock for many florists.(9) 

How long will it last?

Flower farms are already beginning to ramp up production and distributers are beginning to recover from the financial effects of the pandemic. Supply is expected to recover by the end of the year but economists in the floral industry don’t expect prices to return to normal anytime soon. (10)

As the wedding industry recovers, demand will only increase. According to a recent Wedding Market Impact Report, 2021 will see a 30% increase in weddings compared to a normal year. (11) Experts at Brides Magazine predict this trend will also continue into 2022 as couples who delayed their nuptials will finally get a chance to celebrate. (12)

With this increased demand, only time will tell how long the price increases will last but floral expert Phebe Robinson-Higgins says “there’s going to be some struggle for some years to come when it comes to buying from these large distributors”. She is hopeful florists will rely more on local farmers and locally grown flowers to get through the sourcing struggles.


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