Flower prices tumble on local economic slowdown

By Ruby Ying, The China Post

Facing continuing economic slowdown, Taiwan flower growers complained recently that the flower prices in the domestic market have fallen sharply since last April. The wholesale price for roses, in particular, has dropped by as much as 50 percent since last year. According to flower growers from Yanchao Town, Kaohsiung County, who produce roses of a wide variety of species for northern Taiwan, the local flower market has seen decreasing demand since the middle of last year due to the sluggish economy. The planters reveal that during the period from March to May, which is the flowering season for roses, the price for a bunch of first-class roses (comprised of ten branches) or a bunch of second-class roses (comprised of 15 to 20 branches) used to be NT$150 to NT$200. This year, the price has slumped to NT$50 to NT$70, which is close to the prime cost. Given the falling flower prices, local flower growers hope that the market will pick up in winter.

The flower planters said that the winter temperature in southern Taiwan is best for growing roses, and demand for Yanchao’s roses usually exceeds supply in winter. The flower growers sill expect that the wholesale price for roses this winter to reach NT$200 per bunch. Analysts suggest consumers take advantage of the dull flower market right now and buy the flowers they want. For flower growers, cultivating flowers and plants and selling them to flower lovers is a career as risky as stock speculation. The first investment for a professional flower grower is that of a greenhouse and other related equipment, which costs around NT$2-3 million.

The prevention of pests and use of fertilizers also require highly sophisticated techniques which take years to master. Selecting the right species to cater to consumers’ demand is another important skill for a professional flower grower. Pressured by low market demand and shrinking government funding in the past months, flower growers are now eager to tap new sales channels so as to maximize their profits, even though farmers’ associations have already deployed a comprehensive distributing network, noted one flower grower from Yanchao.