We begin in the mid-1970s, a time when Americans produced almost all cut flowers sold in this country. By the 1990s, California farms still controlled 64% of U.S. market share of cut flowers sales. But now according to the California Cut Flower Commission, only 30% of all floral goods sold in the United States are currently grown in California. According to Jim Daly, a keynote Texas A & M Floriculture speaker, “In 1990, California supplied 95% of the cut flowers in the United States, but today it is less than 2%.”
California’s flower producers were eventually overtaken by fierce competition from South American growers – specifically Columbia, the current market leader, with annual exports topping over a billion dollars of roses exported into the United States alone. In 2015, Columbia celebrated its 50th anniversary shipping millions of flowers to the United States.
2015 Columbia – Primary Cut Flower Export in Millions of Dollars
How did the marketplace shift so radically and quickly? A few shifting factors:
- Individual retailer vs. the “chain store”.
- Faster, more reliable refrigerated transportation by air or ground, the details wrapped up in politics.
- Increased availability and persuasive marketing online.