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Ethical flowers: Is it time to make a change?

Recent years have seen wide debate around the ethical sourcing of products across categories as varied as agricultural produce, clothing and furniture. Knowing that your favorite meal, pair of shoes or ottoman was made with as little disturbance to nature’s fragility is becoming increasingly important to younger generations of consumers.

As people come to terms with the reality that our resources are finite, awareness around more ethical and environmentally friendly sourcing of our daily goods and produce will certainly remain be top of mind when people choose to spend on brands.

In fact, research shows that many consumers will consider buying ethically sourced products regardless if it comes at a slightly higher price tag. This is a good barometer for people’s willingness to go green and keep our planet healthy. With respect to the floral industry, alternative means of sourcing at least a portion of your stems can help you diversify your business, while simultaneously helping to make a difference.



A look at the current state of things

Prior to 1990, the US largely produced much of its own flowers to service its local  floral industry. However, suspension of duties on Colombian and other South American imports resulted in a sharp increase in flower exports from our Southern neighbours. Colombia, being the main exporter to the USA, has a favourable year-round climate, incredible floral variety and low-cost labour, which historically made it difficult for American farmers to compete with.

Currently, floral imports from South America total nearly 80% of all flowers that end up in American florists’ store windows. Local produce takes up about 20%, supporting roughly 400 local cut flower producers. This number may surprise florists who focus on only imported stems, but in reality, local goods are readily available if you’re prepared to do a bit of research.

Where to source local flowers

Florists looking to complement their floral collections with locally sourced produce aren’t starved for choice. Heightened awareness about the environmental effects from imported flowers are creating increased demand for local stems. This means more and more local growers are popping up around the country. 

Glad-A-Way flowers started out as a side-of-the-road business that evolved into a 350 acre farm in Santa Monica, California. The farm is known for its exquisite Gladiolus that benefit from the long, sunny California days and also experiment with new varieties. They “gladly” ship across all states in the USA

Dutch-born Martin and Helene Meskers are the proud owners of Oregon Flowers. Th couple chose small town Aurora specifically for its quality soil and ideal climate for flower farming. Founded in 1985, this family owned business produces lilies, tulips, calla lilies, and numerous seasonal cut flowers for wholesalers across the United States and Canada. The Meskers built a state of the art facility and pride themselves on stems that are f the highest quality, consistency, and reliability.

Mellano & Co. has a long history in the floral industry. Spanning five generations, this local floral family know the ins and outs of a business that’s undergoing rapid change. Mellano & Co. has been producing the freshest and most beautiful stems since 1925 are wholesalers, growers, shippers and importers of premium fresh flowers.

Why you should buy local

Even if it’s just partially, sourcing local stems can help your business in a few worthwhile ways. Firstly, it’s important to know that sourcing local produce isn’t always the most expensive option. Due to proximity, shipping local flowers have lower overheads in terms logistics. While many florists outright refuse to consider buying local, they could be doing so at a cost to bottom lines.

Buying local also gives greater guarantees of flowers being fresh. Local shipping between states usually has far less travel time than importing goods from areas as far and wide as South America and the Netherlands. Of course, knowing you’re buying locally sourced produce also means you’re supporting other small businesses and could be helping to keep a local farmer in business, so make sure you check out floral farms in your state.



Another reason to buy local is that florists that do, are eligible for certifications from NGOs and other sustainability programs. Organisations like the Scientific Certified System (SCS) Services are promoting farming and sourcing of ethical flowers and certify retailers who stock goods that meet their standards. This is a fantastic way to let people know they’re buying ethical goods, while catering to a growing market.

Sourcing any product in a more environmentally friendly way is always a good thing. Make sure your business stands up for best practices in both big and small ways by always looking for products and services that people and the planet first. For more news, views and insights on the floral industry, make sure you check back on our floral blog page regularly.

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