Books for Nature Lovers
Cut Flowers of the World
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Review By: Landscape sa - March 2011

In the previous issue of Landscape SA (Jan/Feb 2011), an article entitled "The Modern Cut Flower Industry" was featured, extracted from a new book "Cut Flowers of the World", by Johannes Maree and Ben-Erik van Wyk. In this issue and subsequent ones, further extracts from the book, published by Briza, will appear. 

Most countries of the world produce floral products of some sort for domestic consumption. Approximately 80 countries are involved in the international trade of florist flowers, but only about 30 play a significant role. The Netherlands, Colombia, Italy, Kenya and Isreal account for the bulk of global exports, with approximately 16 countries accounting for the remaining few percentage points. 

Cut flowers are an international traded, high value commodity. Worldwide, retail is worth over US$ 40 billion per annum, and growing. Presently, the largest markets are China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, the United States and the Netherlands. Other important markets are the individual countries of Western Europe, which have the highest per capita consumption of cut flowers in the world. 
According to statistics available from the Flower council of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Austria and Germany are the countries with the highest per capita consumption of floriculture products. Traditionally, the Japanese market, although very large, was supplied by a large number of very small growers. In contrast, production in Columbia, Ecuador, Zimbabwe and Kenya is on a few very large farms. The United States is a large consumer market and imports over half of its total floricultural products. The European Union consumes over 50% of the world's flowers and includes many countries with a relatively high per capita consumption of cut flowers. There is a strong demand in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, Italy and France. Germany and the UK are the two largest importers of floral products, with up to half of the UK's sales taking place through supermarkets and chain stores. 

Production in the Northern Hemisphere 
The leading production countries in floriculture are China, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States. With rapid development in recent years, China has become the largest flower producer in terms of production area and yield, but presently only a very small percentage of this large production is exported. Japan's production area is nearly three times that of the Netherlands. However, productivity, quality and yields on Dutch farms are very high and most Dutch flowers come from the Westland. This region is often called 'the garden of Europe' or 'the city of glass' because the landscape is covered with glasshouses. 

Production in the Southern Hemsiphere 
Cut flower production in Israel, Colombia, Kenya and other South American or African countries (with the exception of South Africa) is virtually entirely for export. Most of these countries have an ideal growing climate or low labour costs, which outweigh many of the disadvantages of airfreight. The general movement of export flowers is from developing countries to the richer markets of North America and Western Europe. The Dutch flower industry still plays a central role in global trade and controls about 55-65% of the international wholesale trade. 

Production vs Export and Import 
Production and export volumes do not necessarily coincide. For example, nearly all of production in Kenya and Colombia is for export, while nearly all of production in Australia, China, Japan and the United States is for local consumption. The Netherlands is the world's largest exporter of floral crops, while the United States ranks near the bottom of the top ten. Yet the United States is the world's largest producer of floral crops, with the Netherlands second. The Netherlands has a surplus from both domestic production and imports, which it exports worldwide. The top five floral producers (including cut flowers, foliages and pot plants) are in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy. With the exception of Germany, these top producers are also in the top ten exporters. The countries that import the greatest number of floral products are Germany, the United States, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, UK, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden. The United States gets most of its imports from Colombia and Ecuador, while the Netherlands gets most of its imports from Israel and Kenya. Otherwise, the Netherlands is the major supplying country to the remaining importing countries. 

Australia produces many traditional florist flowers but there is an upsurge in the cultivation and trade of indigenous flowers and foliages. Around 90% of flowers produced are for domestic consumption. In terms of Australian exports, over 50% of exported flowers are destined for markets in Japan, with 30% to the United States, 11% to the Netherlands and 3% to Germany. 

Kenya is currently the fourth largest exporter of cut flowers in the world an accounts for around a quarter of all exports into Europe. In 2003, Zimbabwe was the eighth largest exporter of cut flowers; South Africa is in 21st place. Other exporting countries are Zambia (23rd), Tanzania (29th) and Mauritius (38th). South Africa ranks 15th largest in world terms and is the only significant exporter of foliage within southern Africa. South Africa has a relatively large local market which consumes approximately 50% of local production. The main export destination is the Dutch auctions, with Germany and the United Kingdom being important destinations as well. Some 80% of South African exports go to Western Europe, 12% to the United States and 8% to Japan, with exports to Dubai growing steadily. 

Regional trade 
International trade is predominantly along regional lines. Asia-Pacific countries are the main suppliers to Japan and Hong Kong. New Zealand sells 70-80% of its exports to Japan, Taiwan more than 90% and Australia 50%. Hong Kong's principal suppliers are China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. African and other European countries are the principal suppliers to Europe's main markets. Kenya sends over 60% to the Dutch auctions, Zimbabwe 80%, Zambia over 90% and South Africa 90% to EU markets. The United States is supplied mainly by Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. 

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