China / Society

Flower sales bloom near Chinese Valentine's Day

By LI YINGQING/CHEN MENGWEI/SHI WENZHI (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-09 07:16
Overproduction and falling demand led to a recent dramatic drop in wholesale prices

Flower prices in China started to recover ahead of the Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day, on Tuesday, after overproduction, combined with natural disasters, dampened sales.

After a recent steep unexpected fall, flower prices steadily recovered as the Qixi Festival approached. Last year, as many as 7 million flowers were sold during the festival at the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center.

After strong flower prices in 2015, growers boosted their expectations and produced most of their flowers around the Qixi Festival, which resulted in a 30 percent increase in production.

However, disastrous flooding nationwide and unusually high temperatures since July have cut into demand. Torrential rains have caused massive outbreaks of diseases among flowers, damaging their quality and hurting business.

"It's too hard to sell. The prices have been so low in recent days, sometimes I can't even reach a deal. I really don't know what to do," said Wang Xing, a flower grower from Guandu district in Kunming, Yunnan province.

Wang's whole family makes a living growing flowers. He heaved deep sighs when talking about the prices of flowers this year.

"A bunch of roses wholesale used to go for 20 yuan ($3.1) five or six days ahead of the Qixi Festival. This year I'm selling at whatever price they offer, otherwise I'll have to dump the flowers."

Zhang Li, general manager of the Kunming trading center, said the variation in flower prices is not a structural problem.

Statistics show that the production of flowers from January to June has gone up by 12 percent, with an average price 26 percent higher than last year.

"This year's flowers are of lower quality than before. We really don't have many choices," said one florist who has been in business for a decade.

As the quality of roses was generally low, dealers have been making offers in accordance with the quality.

"Most would rather make higher bids for flowers of good quality," the florist said.

Liu Junfeng, general manager of Kunming Qingyi Flower Gardening, said growers should spend more time thinking about how to improve the quality of their flowers, rather than how to produce more during certain holidays.

"There are plenty of orders from overseas markets. But as the Level-A flowers are so rarely seen in our market, most companies with insufficient competitiveness would not dare to take those orders." Liu said.

Shi Wenzhi contributed to this story.

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