Impact of COVID-19 on protea sales

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This article was originally published on Floral Daily. Click here to read the original article .

Protea cynaroides, the national flower of South Africa, comes in many colours and sizes and the demand has been increasing for several years now. However, due to COVID-19, sales have come to a standstill.

For white cynaroides variety Arctic Ice, for example, a cultivar managed by Future Fynbos under the Ayoba® brand, 180 000 stems are planned to be produced in 2020 of which around 74 000 stems (40%) will be flowering the first season (April/May).

However, due to the extreme restrictions as a result of COVID-19, approximately 15 000 stems had to be thrown away so far.

Yet the Ayoba flower growers remain hopeful that some of the May flowers can still reach the markets and that the situation will be normalised around their main flower season, which starts in September. This will enable them to bring their flowers to the global market again.

Increasing production of Artic Ice

Artic Ice is a white cynaroides and has been produced in South Africa for the past six years. Volumes started out small, with 7 700 stems produced in 2014, and slowly increased to a total of 128 000 stems produced in 2019 and 180 000 stems that are planned to be produced in 2020.

“Growers of Arctic Ice are very patient as it takes approximately 24 months from pruning to harvesting. Plants are also not high yielding with a maximum of 8 to 10 flowers being produced per plant. But the flowers are received very well as the demand is increasing year-on-year,” explains Caroline O’Brien, managing director of Future Fynbos.

The main production time in South Africa is April/May with a second and main peak in September/October. Flowers are mostly exported to Europe, Russia and the East.

Lockdown affecting supply

South Africa has been under extreme lockdown conditions since midnight on 26 March, as a state of emergency was declared, and it impacted the growers severely.

“With only the sale of essential items taking place, as well as limited flights and restrictions on what farming operations may take place, growers have been unable to sell these beautiful flowers. Flowers which have taken over two years to grow their tall stems and large flowers are having to be left on the plants or thrown away. To date, approximately 15 000 stems have been thrown away,” says O’Brien

Fortunately, some flowers could still fulfil their job and brighten up someone’s day. “One of our Ayoba licenced growers managed to distribute flowers to an old age home during this period and brought great joy to its residents.”

Despite the challenging times, Ayoba flower growers remain hopeful. “They hope that some of the May flowers will be able to reach the markets and that by their main flower season, which starts around September, flights, distribution channels as well as markets will have resumed so that these magnificent flowers can be used globally once again to create hope and joy.” – Floral Daily