Fresh-cut flowers from Yunnan take up 70% of the market share in major cities in China. It is also exported to 46 countries. Credit: Voice of America.

Valentine’s Day on Feb 14 is normally a “carnival” for flower sellers from China, with huge shipments keeping merchants hopping to keep up with last minute-orders.

This year though, the coronavirus epidemic has suspended transport flights while keeping most people at home. This means plunging demand and difficult times for florists across the country, China Daily reported.

“Currently, the flower transportation capability related to the Chinese market is reduced to 10 percent of the normal level. Consumption of flowers, not like daily necessities, is greatly affected during the special period,” said Guo Yanchun, the top executive of the Chinese general agent of Netherlands-headquartered flower care producer Chrysal.

“Our company majors in flower care products, which are relatively easy in stocking. We are already experiencing the influence of the epidemic. However, the influence for the fresh-cut flower enterprises is even bigger,” she said.

Chen Yingxu, general manager of Beijing Jing Ke Hong Xiang Import and Export Trading, said the shipment of roses that were supposed to be transported to China between Feb 6 and Feb 9 are yet to be shipped due to several flight cancellations, the report said.

“We haven’t calculated the loss yet. In one of our bases in Beijing, a batch of flowers which is worth nearly 70,000 yuan (US$10,033) was forced to be stored. We don’t know when the flower market will reopen. If the situation doesn’t get better, the whole batch will be scrapped,” Chen said.

Data from the Dounan Flower Market in Yunnan, the largest fresh-cut flower market in Asia, showed that between Jan 27 and Feb 5, trade volume in the market slumped. The auction transaction volume was 431,500 yuan, which was merely 4.78% compared to the same period in 2019, the report said.

Currently, fresh-cut flowers from Yunnan take up 70% of the market share in major cities in China. It is also exported to 46 countries, the report said.

“As sales during the Valentine’s Day normally account for one third of that of the whole year, it is estimated that the loss of Yunnan’s flower industry, including supporting industries such as logistics, during the special period will reach 3 billion yuan to 5 billion yuan,” said Wang Jihua, deputy director of the Yunnan Provincial Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

He noted that the Flower Research Institute under the academy is now offering free consultation services to floriculturists in Yunnan to help them stabilize plantation and production, and resume operations when the epidemic ends, the report said.

“The country is experiencing high-quality economic growth, and generally speaking, the flower industry is quite profitable. With the improvement of the epidemic prevention, consumption during special occasions such as the upcoming Women’s Day, will see a resumption of growth and offset the previous losses,” Wang said.

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