Garden centres and florists are allowed to reopen in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That’s what the region’s secretary of agriculture wrote to Iberflora. Kees Schoenmaker, president of Ibraflor, feels it’s great news. “We’re delighted. Like one of our members wrote: the situation is costing us millions in terms of revenues.”
Schoenmaker led a crisis committee on behalf of Ibraflor, which also included representatives of Veiling Holambra, Cooperflora and other parties. From the very beginning, this crisis committee has been doing everything they could to undo the state of Sao Paulo’s decision that garden centres and retailers had to close their doors. With success.
On 29 April, Sao Paulo’s secretary of agriculture wrote in a letter to the chairman of Ibraflor that plants and flowers could be sold again, because they are considered essential products. However, the secretary does call on the stores to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The earlier closure of florists and garden centres had a major impact on the floriculture sector in Holambra. André van Kruijssen, the director of Veiling Holambra, described the measure as a tragedy. “The only way to reach consumers was via the retail stores.”
Specialist shops and garden centres account for 60% of the turnover of Veiling Holambra members. Supermarkets account for 40%. During the first week of the crisis, Veiling Holambra temporarily stopped all auctioning activities. At that time, customers could only buy directly, via the web shop and via auction presale.
Van Kruijssen is relieved about the letter from Sao Paulo’s secretary of agriculture Gustavo Diniz Junqueira, and he says it’s an important decision. He felt an enormous emotional discharge when he heard the news.
“There was no place for us. It’s all about agriculture and livestock in Brazil, about cane sugar, potatoes, soya, citrus fruits etc. Flowers are intended for celebrations and decorations, so they were viewed as non-essential. The government didn’t think of the benefits that plants have for people: adding to their well-being, clean air and surrounding them by natural beauty. It’s great that they see that now.”
About 50% of Holambra’s plants and flowers are distributed within Sao Paulo (45 million inhabitants). The rest goes to other states, where shops and garden centres are still closed. Van Kruijssen has noticed that the sale of potted plants via the auction is recovering quite fast. Flowers sales are still suffering because there aren’t any events.
The coronavirus spread in Brazil during the carnival celebrations at the end of February. By the third week of March, several states had introduced strict measures. All retailers selling non-essential products had to close their doors. This included garden centres, florists’ and flower markets. On 17 April, the state of Sao Paulo extended this measure to the 10th of May.
Click here to read more on floriculture in Brazil.