Friend of the month – March

Have your say in March… Caroline Marshall-Foster from the UK!

“While the men may think they hold the reins it is women who keep this industry going!

We spoke with Caroline Marshall-Foster, editor to Florist Magazine for 35+ years and she claims ‘networking’ to be her second name and expertise in the flower industry. Let’s see what she has to tell us about Women, Sustainability and flower industry…

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: 
On the 8th of March we will celebrate the international Women’s Day, how important is this holiday for the Flower industry?

Caroline Marshall: As an international woman I have to say very important!  In truth it really depends on which country.  For example in Russia it’s huge, here in the UK it is only just beginning to make itself felt and then only in areas where there is a strong Eastern European population. In the UK Mother’s Day… which this year is only a week later on March 15th… is far more important. My dream though is that flowers are bought every week… not just on high days and holidays.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: Is there any link between this celebration and sustainability (social)?

Caroline: I think it is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the fact that so much of the flower industry is both dependent on – and helpful to – women who work so incredibly hard; be it those who work on the farms and grow the flowers to the florists around the world who then turn them into wonderful gifts and emotional message carriers.   I’m no feminist but while the men may think they hold the reins it is women who keep this industry going!

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: Which are the biggest challenges of the flower industry regarding new market demands?

Caroline: It depends on how you define market demands.  If it is for vase life, quality, introducing sustainable growing, ecofriendly transportation systems etc then I think the industry is pretty good and innovative.  If it’s about matching and meeting design trends you only have to look at the world of floristry to see that flowers can fit into any surroundings. 
However if it’s about being loud and proud about ourselves and why flowers should be a must buy product by far more consumers … especially amongst generation X’ers and Millennials then we have a big challenge.  Every stage of the chain has a responsibility to make sure we promote our products, our industry and what it does for the world, be it creating jobs or creating gifts that convey messages of love, thanks, condolences like no other product can.  We need to get the flower power message out far more.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: How can the supply chain generate sustainable profit? 

Caroline: The fast answer is to charge more but I know that is easier said than done, especially when so much of the market is in the hands of the big boys where margins are tight… or so they say!
There is also a limit to how much consumers will pay for flowers although personally I think price resistance amongst consumers has been led by the price wars carried out by the big boys who are in danger of commoditizing flowers too much.  They should be far braver in their own pricing policies as not only would they make them more money but more could filter back to the supply chain as well.  
That said there will always be a market for flowers so it is never going to die out.  Not only have we got new emerging markets to develop in terms of customers but I think we have probably reached the limit of substantial new growing areas coming into the market for the foreseeable future, which means key growing areas like Colombia and Kenya will be OK as long as they keep innovating and improving quality.

What’s the role of women in sustainable floriculture? are your clients aware of where your products come from and whose behind it? we’d love to read your experiences and share some thoughts!