How the COVID-19 Pandemic Caused a Flower Shortage

Flower Farm Shortage

It’s been a year since the pandemic shut down the world, and things are finally starting to look a little closer to normal. There’s no longer a massive shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and businesses are opening back up to serve their customers. However, there are still a lot of industries that have been affected by the massive shutdowns and disruptions in regular business production. It turns out that the pandemic has also resulted in a major shortage of flowers!  Yes, you heard that right: FLOWERS.

How on Earth did a virus create a flower shortage?? Did everyone start stocking up and hoarding flowers as they did with toilet paper? Did the flowers catch Covid and die? Not quite. The pandemic flower shortage is the result of some bad growing weather and a trickle-down effect of shut-down related issues that have caused backups in a number of worldwide industries.

Large Supply Without Demand

Florists and large retailers receive their flowers from a variety of both large and small growing farms around the world, including the United States, South America, and the Netherlands. These farms have their projected flower demands and plant accordingly each year to supply to their buyers. When the worldwide pandemic started shutting down businesses in 2020, the projected demand based on previous “normal” years for those flowers hit a brick wall. Offices, restaurants, and retailers that usually had large, long-standing orders for flowers no longer needed them.  For some growers, this meant that the demand for their flowers stock was cut by nearly 95%, forcing many farmers to give away their overstock they couldn’t sell, or simply letting them die in the fields at a tremendous loss.

This was an especially difficult issue for larger growing farms that employed hundreds of employees to tend to their large crop of flowers. Once the demand for the flowers was taken away, so was the money that was expected from those now non-existent sales. The dominos continued to fall with growers forced to lay off large amounts of workers and suffer their own staggering financial loss. Many larger growing farms in California and South America had to shut down their growing operations and sell their farms because they no longer had the capital or labor to continue to run. Some of them are no longer used as flower farms, but instead as more lucrative cannabis growing farms, especially in South America. The result in the larger California farms closing and other farms no longer even producing flowers is a shortage that includes snapdragons, Delphinia, and gerbera daisies.

Transportation Issues

For the growers that we’re able to continue to operate and fulfill their flower orders, they ran into problems with getting orders delivered. With more people staying home, the demand for both air and ground shipping increased. Many people may not know that passenger planes are also used for shipping cargo around the world. When the world shut down and most people stopped flying commercially, that meant there were less planes in the air delivering cargo. Thus, air and ground shipping companies were swamped more than ever delivering necessary goods to businesses and retailers. Most delivery companies made more money delivering essentials such as fruits and vegetables, which unfortunately meant that flower deliveries fell by the wayside. Ironically, it was smaller flower growers with more local delivery options with smaller, private trucking companies that found more opportunities to ship their crop than larger farms shipping stock that would require much larger trucks that just weren’t available.

Poor Weather Conditions Results in Low Flower Inventory

While flowers themselves are not directly affected by the Coronavirus, they can still be negatively affected by unfavorable weather conditions. Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 has been a poor growing season in many parts of the world that supply retailers with their flowers. South America, in particular, has experienced a colder, rainier growing season that resulted in reduced crop yields, especially for roses and carnations. Unfortunately, this weather trend brought on by La Nina is expected to continue these adverse growing conditions and still make projected flower yields smaller than usual. While flower growers and farmers alike have always had to deal with poor crop yields after a particularly harsh growing season, they at least had consistent demand for their product. After the pandemic has caused so many growers to lose huge amounts of their crop due to weather and decreased demand and subsequent loss of farms, it’s going to take a while for the world’s collective supply of flowers being grown to catch up to where it was in 2019.

Can I Still Get Flowers?

The good news is that flower growers are still fighting to keep their farms alive, and shipping availability is getting better worldwide as more businesses open to a fuller capacity. It’s likely you may have difficulty finding certain types of flowers that suffered from last year’s poor growing season, as well as face delayed delivery and increased flower prices. Don’t worry you can order flowers from FTD, we will do our best to keep our florists operating to get flowers to your doorstep.