A few more days until Christmas and it seems like business as usual in Quito. Without the face masks, a look at the streets wouldn’t suggest there’s a virus going around. Well, the schools are still closed. They have been for nine months now. And the road usage restrictions are still in place, albeit in reduced form, and it seems like there isn’t a single police officer checking anymore. As per tradition, Quito is getting ready for the exodus towards the beaches, where everyone celebrates the end of the year with family and friends.
The fear of getting infected is low among the population. According to the official sources, the curve has been flattening for weeks, and we’re now far below 1,000 positive cases per day. Good news, and it seems like even the Black Friday rush or the Christmas shopping hasn’t had a negative effect.
And there was more good news this week. Despite the coronavirus, Ecuador had a great year when it comes to gold, copper, cacao, banana and balsa exports. All of these products saw an increase of 15% to 180% this year! Balsa is a type of wood that’s ultralightweight and it’s produced hardly anywhere outside Ecuador. The trees grow superfast, and the material is in high demand for the manufacturing of rotor blades for wind turbines.
Unfortunately, the flower export sector couldn’t share in this success. All in all, we did manage to catch up towards the end of the year, but the sector will still be reporting a slight decrease for 2020. There was simply too much uncertainty in production as well as logistics.
The recent Christmas peak reminded us of that. There weren’t enough red, white and green roses available, and as a result, prices skyrocketed. The same was true for carnations and alstroemeria in Christmas colours. We could have sold much more, but the supply simply wasn’t there. Having said that, we must remember it’s a matter of choice for the growers. If they supply for Christmas, they won’t have any produce ready by Valentine’s Day. For most growers, that isn’t a hard choice.
Well, let’s forget about 2020, and look ahead to the new year. It’s only six more weeks until Valentine’s Day, which could be the most unpredictable holiday of the past 30 years. We’d better start preparing!
Victor van Dijk,
Area manager South America FleuraMetz
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