Truth is that there are not many rose growers left in the US. At least not so many rose growers within the cut-rose industry.
There’s a story behind it. Read on…
These days, when you pick up a rose bouquet at the local florist or at a supermarket, there’s every chance that the roses have come from Columbia or perhaps from Ecuador.
Of all the roses that are produced and sold on Valentine’s Day in the US, around 80% of those come from South America. Otherwise, and most of the remainder are still grown in California.
Until the 1970s there was a huge flower-growing (inclusive of roses, carnations, and pom-poms) industry in New Jersey.
There was an oil embargo that occurred during the early 70s and that oil embargo was responsible for driving up oil costs.
Many rose growers in the US depended on oil-produced heat to maintain a year-round growing season for flowers. In the 70s, their profits fell drastically. And because property values were skyrocketing, many growers decided to sell off their land to get out of the flower-growing business.
At about the same time, it was discovered that an area near Bogota in Colombia offered ideal flower-growing conditions. In Bogota the climate is temperate and there’s plenty of natural sunlight year-round.
However, even so, there was little threat presented to the rose-growing industry in the US at that time. That was because the Colombian locals had little concept of producing high-quality flowers and they had no idea about flower export.
A decade later and domestic growers were starting to sense a change. In South America, because of cheaper energy and labor costs, flowers produce there were sold at below-market rates.
Then, in the early 1990s, the US government opted to reduce tariffs on a variety of South American imports, including cut flowers. This was a measure to help steer South American countries away from the production of cocaine.
Furthermore, flowers from South America tend to be quite a bit larger than their counterparts produced in the US.
As a result of this, over the years, flower wholesalers in the US began to switch over to South American flower suppliers.
South American roses, particularly those from Colombia and Ecuador, are generally larger than roses from California or elsewhere in the US. Furthermore, South American roses are richer in color and they also last longer. Currently, South American roses, in general, are around 20% cheaper than roses produced in the US.
Over the prior 10 years or more the number of US flower-growing businesses has continued to decline at around 4% annually. Revenues continue to fall as well.
Besides cut-price roses from abroad, larger-sized retailers such as Walmart and Safeway have likewise added pressure to the domestic flower-growing market. Larger retailers charge lower consumer prices than what most local growers can afford to sell at.
These days, with not many local rose growers left, prices of roses that come from South America have crept upwards. Given another few years and chances are that South American cut-rose imports will be the same as rose growers in California are charging. Will this see something of an emergence of the number of rose growers in California and elsewhere in the US?