Local Florida business Manatee farms has been operating in Manatee County for over a century now, and, for most of that time, it has grown its flowers locally, but, now, they’re getting their cut flowers from orchid exporters in Thailand, among other places.
The major change for the Florida flower company is that now imports 90% of its cut flowers from across the world, whilst they’re now prioritizing locally grown potted plants, alongside sustainable floral importation.
The company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Robert McLaughlin, showed off the company’s refrigerated storage area, where they keep the imported flowers they purchased from orchid exporters in Thailand, Ecuador, Colombia and Netherlands, among others. The area is 36° in order to keep the flowers fresh before they’re shipped off to retailers.
Consumers are now looking to be aware of where their bough products are grown. They are also looking to ensure that workers are treated properly; which include proper safety training, as well as receiving the equipment they need to do their jobs properly and safely.
Manatee Farms CEO Whiting Preston says that their certified floral farms are not only effective, but also preserve the local ecology surrounding them, working to minimize their footprint on Mother Earth. He adds that a lot of the cut flowers that they sell are produced offshore, imported from orchid exporters in Thailand, Columbia and other countries in the world. Preston says that the floriculture industry is now becoming a global industry.
The shift to imported cut flowers have been a slow and gradual evolution for the company, brought about by increasing labour costs as well as stricter environmental standards in the industry, Whiting says. He adds that the marketing of flowers have also changed. While local florists are still important, while grocery stores and online providers have become more prominent.
In the US, domestic growers still hold the market when it comes for potted plants, thanks to strict import rules in the country that protect them from diseases that have struck the citrus industry.
The Manatee Farms’ adaptations are a sign of the modern world’s more tech savvy and eco-conscious consumers, which companies across the world.