Business owner prepares flowers

Behind the bloom

Behind the bloom

Unearthing the trends driving the global growth of the flower trade

Unearthing the trends driving the global growth of the flower trade

Global demand for flowers is flourishing. Here, we look at what’s driven the industry’s astonishing growth – and the possibilities this could bring to businesses worldwide.

A thriving global market

How do you congratulate a friend on a new job or baby? When you want to brighten up your home, cheer up or apologise to a loved one, what do you buy? 

From commiseration to celebration, flowers play an important role in our daily lives. Our love of blooms has become a global phenomenon, with the worldwide market set to be valued at $104 billion a year by 2026.1 But it hasn’t always been this way. In the 1950s, the market was worth just $3 billion,2 with only one or two markets leading production. So, what changed?

How flowers became rooted in global trade

Thanks to the e-commerce boom, consumers enjoy more choice than ever before. A whole new world of flowers is but a click away – and with the launch of subscription-based delivery models, buyers are getting rare, exotic blooms sent straight to their doorstep. This demand for convenience is just one factor contributing to the industry’s growth. Another is the rising trend among consumers to use flowers as a method of self-expression, and to bring a touch of nature into their homes.3

Increased global connectivity has also allowed the industry to thrive, opening up passages between continents and facilitating exciting partnerships between businesses of all sizes. In Kenya, for example, flower farms are growing higher quantities and expanding their operations. There’s even a dedicated flower terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where businesses can ship to the UK, Australia, Holland, Russia, the U.S. and China.4

Another key contributor to growth is the innovation in the world of logistics, which has revolutionised its processes to ensure both businesses and consumers receive a rapid, frictionless delivery experience. Providers have expanded their networks to span the entire globe, invested in infrastructure to offer quicker transportation, and enhanced their packaging and vehicle capabilities to make sure perishable goods (such as cut flowers) remain in peak condition and at the required temperature in transit.

Who’s leading the ‘bloom’?

For centuries, the Netherlands has been the stem from which the flower market has blossomed – not just in Europe, but across the globe. This small nation is both the world’s main exporter and a top three importer of flowers, behind Germany and the U.S. Each year, Dutch growers breed and cultivate around 1,200 to 1,500 new flowers and plants.5 The Netherlands is also home to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction – the largest of its kind in the world and where around 20 million flowers are traded each day.6

However, the Netherlands is facing some growing competition in Africa and South America. Colombia and Ecuador are becoming increasingly important players, with Colombia owning a 16% share in the export market and Ecuador a 11% share (compared to the Netherlands’ 43% share).7

Kenya, meanwhile, recorded significant growth in exports between 2006 and 2017, with the volume of cut flowers shipped rising from 86,480 tons to 159,961 tons. The country now sells its flowers in more than 60 countries worldwide, and provides employment to an estimated 2 million people through the flower trade.8

As for who’s driving growth for the developing markets, the U.S. is playing a major part in this, with two in three flowers sold in the U.S. currently grown in Colombia.9 Experts say this is because of Colombia’s lower cost margin, its reputation for exceptional quality when it comes to roses, carnations and orchids, and the increased feasibility over the last few decades of fast transportation.10

Global flower exports: who owns the biggest share?








The future is flowers

What’s next for the global flower market? Online flower sales are set to grow, fuelled by millennials wanting to brighten up smaller living spaces and create content for Instagram feeds.11 Research shows that 18% buy flower products monthly and 12% buy them more than once a month.12

In Europe, the share of e-commerce in overall flower spend is expected to increase 30% by 2027.13 Based on recent figures, this shift will likely vary from market to market (it’s currently at 3% in Germany, and 14% in the UK). 

In Asia, e-commerce is also flourishing. The Chinese flower e-commerce market is set to grow 32% between 2020 and 2021,14 while India has been named the fastest-growing e-commerce market.15 E-commerce revenue in this country is expected to grow at an annual rate of 51%,16 with the success of the online gifting industry (including flowers) a major contributor.17

As for what this means for businesses, growing online demand will likely trigger a need to reach customers worldwide faster than competitors – and with a superior quality of service. If this feels challenging, partnering with a logistics provider can help realise this ambition, allowing them to offer a quick, frictionless delivery experience and guarantee fresh, long-lasting flowers.

New possibilities to go global

It’s not just businesses in the flower market that can seize exciting opportunities in global trade – e-commerce and social media platforms are opening up new possibilities in every industry. With the support and expertise of a powerful logistics partner, you can make the most of them.

Discover more about how you can tap into the potential of international markets by relying on the extensive FedEx global network and our decades of experience, offering you next-day delivery to select destinations worldwide.