Organic Floral Industry Sees Growth
Mill Valley, Calif. - The outlook is rosy for organic flower sales this Valentine's Day, and organic stems are a tiny but growing part of the business. A leading online organic florist projects about a threefold increase in dollar sales over 2005, and expects to ship more than 200,000 stems of "eco-roses" during the Valentine's season.
Increasing consumer awareness and greater supply are helping the category grow, said Gerald Prolman, the organic flower pioneer who is chief executive officer of Organic Bouquet, which claims to be the world's first online organic florist.
"Sustainable floral production is quickly gaining momentum," said Prolman, whose company is based here. "I believe that within three to four years, certified sustainable flowers will be the standard for the fresh-cut flower industry, with organic at the forefront."
OrganicBouquet.com added a number of new growers, and that's boosting supply, he said. Brick-and-mortar retailers also are likely to expand their offerings.
"I believe you will see several major mass market retailers soon start to feature organic flowers with programs to convert their entire floral departments to 100% certified, sustainably grown flowers," Prolman said. "The volume is available, so this can be achieved now."
The Delaware Valley Floral Group's organic division expects holiday sales to increase 12% this year. The company will sell about 100,000 stems of roses, mainly to supermarkets, N.J. The company also supplies a few freestanding florists.
"It's been steady growth," Johnson said.
Florists increasingly view organics as a category that can help them stand out from competitors, he said.
"They're looking to differentiate the product mix at the store level," he said.
Todays crop of organic flowers can hold their own next to conventional flowers. Consumers are pleasantly surprised by the high quality of cut flowers grown organically, he said.
"The product is beautiful," Johnson said. "We have an organic call lily grower whose product is superior to most calla lillies we carry on a regular basis. People don't have to compromise."
Retail prices are higher for organics. For Valentine's Day, retailers typically offer bouquets of a dozen organic roses for $30 to $35, about $10 more than conventional roses, Johnson said.
Originally printed in the February 2006 issue of Supermarket News