Coronavirus: Mother's Day could be saving grace for beleaguered flower growers

Coronavirus: Mother's Day could be saving grace for beleaguered flower growers

Growers dumping flowers intended for export in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are hoping for a Mother's Day reprieve. New Zealand's $50-70 million export floral trade could wilt even if its main markets re-open soon because the cost of

international freight has increased so steeply since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Growers have already reported dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of flowers during lockdown, but the industry warns worse may be yet to come. New Zealand Flower Exporters Association chairman Mike Desmond said uncertainty in overseas markets meant the problems were sure to continue long after lockdown eased.

"With an estimated 50 per cent of locally produced flowers heading overseas the impact could be 'horrendous'", he said. He said that it may not be until borders opened to overseas tourist that freight prices will drop low enough to make exporting worthwhile. "There is light at the end of the tunnel and we have faith in our resilience. We will find a way, but we don't know the way yet," Desmond said.

Wairarapa grower Theo Van der Put, who grows gladioli and freesia for the domestic market, estimated his business had already lost around $150,000 worth of harvest from March alone. "For the lockdown to come right at the peak time really sucked." They were pinning their hopes on an upswing in demand in level three and then level two a fortnight later.

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