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Buying More Flowers Extends a Helping Hand
Taiwan can be included in G20 of the world flower industry if considering only the volume of exported flowers. And Taiwan is the leader if considering only Phalaenopsis orchid exports. But Taiwan lags far behind other countries in flower consumption.
“ It does not mean people in Taiwan do not like flowers, they just don’t want to spend too much on flowers,” noted Han-ching Hsu, secretary qeueral of Agriculture and Food Agency, the Council of Agriculture (COA). People in Taiwan usually buy flowers on such special occasions as Valentine’s Day, graduation season or Chinese New Year Festival, because “buying flowers is an impulsive spending for most people in Taiwan.”
It is quite different in Europe and the United States where people love flowers, appreciate flowers, buy flowers and plant flowers. “They put herbal flowers on windowsills, place potted flowers in rooms and plant flowers in the garden,” said Hsu.
Then how do we increase flower consumption in Taiwan? “We have to try to integrate flowers into people’s daily life,” said Hsu. In other words, we should converse Taiwan people’s habit of flower consumption from impulsive to routine behavior.
“ Buying flowers is a habit. Those who are used to see flowers everyday will buy flowers frequently,” said Junne-jih Chen, director-general of Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute. He added that it is not enough to just sponsor an international floral exposition, we have to integrate flowers into design exhibitions related to our daily life. For instance, if we display various flowers in combination with different furniture in an exhibition of furniture or household goods, it is an invisible education about flowers for visitors to the show.
“ Promoting flower arrangement teaching can also increase flower-buying consumers. We have sponsored flower arrangement activities for 1,000 people and Agriculture and Food Agency has carried out some promotional activities to market flowers in cooperation with Taiwan Florists’ Transworld Delivery Association,” said Mr. Han-ching Hsu. “The prevalence of Internet has also changed the operations of conventional florists. Nowadays consumers don’t have to buy flowers directly from a flower shop, they can order flowers from an Internet florist easily while sitting at home.”
To establish such an Internet trading system, a flower market plays an important role. “At present Taiwan has five flower wholesale markets in the follring eitiies Taipei, Taichung, Changhua, Tainan and Ksohsiung City in which flowers are traded using computerized auction clock,” noted Hsu. The greatest benefit of auction clock transactions is to keep trading fair and control flower prices within reasonable limits by putting together large volume of flowers in one place and then distribute them rapidly.
Auction clock transactions are being done on-line, with the clock ticking backward from the highest price. And the buyer who presses the button first gets the auctioned flowers at the price the clock’s hand pointing at when the button is pressed. When the purchase quantity is determined, information is keyed in the wholesale market computer system and a bill is printed for the buyer. The deal is completed when the buyer paid cash or made a bank transfer.
“ Many flower farmers do not know where the flower wholesale markets are and have never been there. But when dealing in the wholesale market, a flower farmer will receive a message on his mobile phone after a transaction is completed and the money will be transferred to his bank account,” said Hsu, adding that whether the farmer has been to the flower market is not important at all.
“ Last year 64.66 million dozens of cut flowers and 7.16 million potted flowers were transacted in this way, while farmers cooperative marketing groups supplied 44.13 million bunches of flowers to wholesale markets. The flower industry’s output totaled about NT$12.25 billion last year, with 68% of flowers being traded through wholesale markets,” noted Hsu.
“ Flower consumption is one of indicators of culture for a country and we hope that Taiwan will catch up advanced countries in this regard very rapidly,” said Hsu.