COVID 19’S IMPACT ON THE FLORISTRY INDUSTRY
Covid 19 has had a devastating effect on many businesses. Floristry is no exception. With all social gatherings involving over 6 people currently prohibited, all large celebrations and weddings have been postponed indefinitely. This even includes memorial services. As many hotels and restaurants close their doors over night, demand for fresh flowers in every sector ceased with little notice.
In the first few weeks of the pandemic in Europe, the Dutch flower auction houses were disposing of tonnes and tonnes of floral blooms and foliage every day, as the market crashed. The supply of imported flowers has been reduced to a mere trickle, and the majority of the floral blooms now being used in the UK are all being produced by UK flower farmers. Many of the overseas flower farmers have seen the demand for their produce dry up, and they have sadly realised that with the small quantities of flowers needed currently, that it is financially unsustainable for them to airfreight such small amounts. Sadly many of these flowers with little home market, are being composted.
GOOD NEWS FOR BRITISH FLOWER FARMERS
British flower growers have been increasing in numbers over the last few years, and have inadvertently been given the most wonderful opportunity to provide individuals with seasonal flowers throughout the lockdown weeks. Covid 19 has re-educated us all on so much, including our unhealthy reliance on imports. By happy coincidence, it is making us all aware of what is traditionally and seasonally grown and available within the British Isles, and this includes flowers. There has been a surge in the public’s support for British farmers and flower growers during these difficult times, and we must hope that this continues indefinitely. With the Brexit effect also looming, and the possibility of import duty on flowers, local flower farmers have a wonderful opportunity to thrive, help increase their market share and satisfy the home market.
The floristry trend in the UK in particular, has seen the style of floral design become much looser, and more natural. In many instances, floral designers are being asked to produce large scale floral designs that mirror the natural world around them. Many florists are veering away from using the environmentally unfriendly floral foam, and are now embracing more traditional methods and techniques. There have been a number of new inventions to help construct large scale, breathtaking floral designs, enabling us to become more sustainable. Much of the seasonal British foliage and flowers are particularly suited to these more natural and flowing designs that have become so popular.
There is however, an important ongoing role for all UK florists and floral designers. If we are to support the British flower farmers, we need to help educate everyone, on the seasonal availability of different flowers and foliage. I am in the process of compiling lists of flower availability in the UK, for each month of the year. These lists, may help brides to focus on which month of the year they would like to get married. However, nature, is very much her own boss, so nothing can be guaranteed! Last minute substitutions are sometimes necessary, due to a shortage in supply or inclement weather.
Climate change is becoming an increasing problem, for us all to address in our every day lives. More brides are now requesting that their wedding flowers are grown, not flown, in an effort to reduce the carbon foot print of their wedding day. We predict that as a result of the covid 19 virus, and with the onset of Brexit, that a more local approach to supply, will continue to be favoured by brides, florists and floral designers.
When planning your wedding, start discussing your preferences with your chosen florist or floral designer as soon as possible. This is necessary for them to establish the local supply of flowers, for your wedding.
Lockdown is now starting to be eased, and Covent Garden Market has just announced that it will be opening it’s doors again form the 15th June. Many floristry wholesalers, who import much of their stock are now offering a limited service. If you are interested in sourcing some locally grown British Flowers, contact www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk. for your local flower farmer. Parts of the world are already emerging from their lockdown; but it is difficult to predict, when the hospitality and event industry in the UK, will be back on it’s feet. Until then, we must continue to be patient, and like many florists and floral designers, I cannot wait to have the opportunity to be really creative again!