We haven’t invested an awful lot in our company the last couple of years. The economic crisis has had a major impact on the distribution market. The low US dollar made exporting very difficult. Plants and flowers from the USA found their way to the Canadian market, which made it even harder for us to sell our produce.
We had to make a strategic choice and decided to decrease our production. We scaled down our hibiscus production by nearly 50%. And as for our bromeliads, production stayed the same. We did manage to reduce the costs a bit by purchasing juvenile bromeliads instead of young propagation materials. Because the exchange rate of the US dollar was so low. As a consequence, our greenhouse wasn’t completely full, not even in springtime. We were in survival mode.
Over the past five years, the market has steadily turned around. The US dollar slowly went up from CAD $0.90 in 2012 to CAD $1.30 in 2017. And slowly but surely, consumer confidence was restored.
During the past two years, we’ve seen a real change in demand. In 2012 we were still selling to our regular customers on the local market, as long as they weren’t getting better offers from the United States. At the moment, orders are booked in advance again.
Most of our 2017 production was already sold during the winter. This has an impact on all plant and flower growers. There are shifts in cultivation plans. Some nurseries decide to specialise.
We need to decide if we want to expand, so that we can take advantage of the new opportunities in the market. So, we spoke with suppliers of greenhouses and heating and irrigation systems. It turns out that the increased pressure on the market is partially coming from a totally different area.
Lots of greenhouses that are rented or bought nowadays, are used for the cultivation of cannabis. All sorts of speculators are embarking on cannabis projects. One supplier told us that these projects are secured before the greenhouse is outsourced. They’re even paid in advance. Tulip mania seems to have turned into ‘pot’ mania. Let’s see how it all pans out.
Angelle van Kleef
Potted plants grower, Ontario, Canada