The Crash of the $8.5 Billion Global Flower Trade

The Crash of the $8.5 Billion Global Flower Trade

As people everywhere cancel events and big cut-flower orders, the ripples reach into Dutch auction halls and Kenyan rose fields.  When Meredith Dean pictured her May wedding, she imagined her guests walking through a meadow of wildflowers.

The bridesmaids would carry bouquets, the groomsmen would wear boutonnieres, and a circle of flowers would surround Dean and her beau as they exchanged vows. A wall of flowers would serve as a backdrop for photos. Vases of buds would run down the center of long dining tables in a barn in New York’s Catskills. Still more flowers would hang above the dance floor.

Dean had chosen the date so spring blooms would be at their peak: bright yellow daffodils, fragrant purple hyacinth, puffy peonies, hydrangea, and, of course, roses. She hadn’t set a budget yet, leaving it to her floral designer to decide how many stems to order. “It would be a lot,” she says.

As reports of U.S. Covid-19 cases mounted in early March, Dean, a 29-year-old who works in development at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, checked the news obsessively. When authorities cautioned against holding events for more than 250 guests, her colleagues told her not to worry—the wedding was still months off. And then on March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans should avoid gathering in groups larger than 50 for the next eight weeks. Dean’s wedding was seven weeks away, and she was expecting about 100 guests.

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