Roses for French mothers expensive because of El Niño

Red roses were scarce and costly in the wholesale sector last week. VGB, the Dutch branch organisation for wholesale trade in flowers and plants, stated that this was caused by the climatic phenomenon El Niño.

Traders explained that El Niño is to blame for the poor harvest in Kenya, from where many ‘Dutch’ roses are imported. And red roses are the traditional flower for surprising French mothers. El Niño results in a marked annual increase in the temperature of sea water, which causes serious drought in some places and flooding in others in the production area around the equator.

Not only Kenya, but also Ethiopia, Colombia, and Ecuador were more severely affected by El Niño than usual this year. These countries also produce roses for the European market. Some nurseries in Ethiopia, which are often run by Dutch owners, had to discard forty percent of their flowers because of the amount of rain, while drought caused famine elsewhere in the country.

Traders reported that a quarter of the crop in Kenya had been destroyed because of the amount of rain it received and said that the roses’ quality did not justify airfreight costs.

Exporter Hans van de Plas from Rijnsburg, the Netherlands, explained that increased demand, because of Mother’s Day in France and the lack of supply from countries such as Kenya, caused the price of red roses to rise. ‘Many orders that had been placed at these nurseries were cancelled,’ he said.

Some exporters had anticipated the situation in time and had agreed on direct prices with Dutch and foreign growers, so they are not currently facing major surprises about pricing. The Dutch Flower Group in Aalsmeer – with dozens of subsidiaries the biggest export concern in Europe – indicated that supermarkets in particular are experiencing an increased demand for roses as well as for mixed bouquets.