SAN BOI DE LLOBREGAT, Spain: True to tradition, the inhabitants of Spain’s autonomous region Catalonia continued to purchase for the most important floral holiday of the year – La Diada de San Jordi (April 23). Nearly for months on, in-depth market analysis reveals that there is one thing Catalonians can’t do without on this day of lovers: fresh cut roses. Also this year Colombia, Ecuador and The Netherlands continued their fight over San Jordi market share in Catalonia.
The Catalonian hearts-and-flowers celebration of San Jordi fell on a Saturday this year. Is this necessarily a bad thing (the holiday falling on a weekend offers consumers more time to shop at alternative retailers and less employers giving floral gifts to their workers) and how will the sluggish economy impact on rose sales? These were exactly the questions the Mercabarna market and its customers tried to answer during a press luncheon at their premises in San Boi de LLobregat, near Barcelona, on Thursday April 14th.
Catalonia’s most important floral holiday
Mercabarna’s president Augusti Colom, Mercabarna’s chief executive Josep Tejedo, the chairman of the Mercabarna wholesale association, Miquel Batlle and the chairman of Catalonia’s florist association Joan Guillem were on hand to provide information.
Colom described Sant Jordi as the region’s most important flower giving holiday which is good for 30% of Catalonia’s annual spending on fresh cut flowers. He added that this year rose sales will stay at last year’s level, accounting for 6 million stems sold across the whole of Catalonia. This year, San Jordi roses started trading at €4/stem depending on overall quality, stem length and bud presentation.
The Mercabarna president proudly added that nearly one third of the total sales volumes, that’s 2 million roses, are sold through the Mercabarna wholesale market. This year San Jordi was on a Saturday holiday, but the effect was minor as at the florist level many pre San Jordi orders came flying in.
“It is a sign that employers will offer their female workers roses one day ahead of San Jordi. Other positive indicators are that restaurants, hotels, discotheques and theatres this year jumped on the San Jordi bandwagon organizing all kind of special activities with fresh cut roses and rose petals present as gift and decoration items,” said Colom with San Jordi only 19 days away.
Roses mostly sourced from abroad
The press event marked a great opportunity to see first-hand what type of roses the men from Catalonia will offer their beloved ones. Almost all (92%) of the roses sold for San Jordi are imported. The Mercabarna reps reported that 8% of the roses are grown in the country itself, half of which is grown in Catalonia. It is estimated that there is about 200 to 250 ha of glasshouse cut rose production in Spain.
Rose growers from The Netherlands, Colombia and Ecuador continue to fight over San Jordi market share in Catalonia. Mercabarna’s latest trade data showed that Colombia and Ecuador had the biggest rise in rose exports to Catalonia, overtaking the Netherlands as the biggest exporter of San Jordi roses to Catalonia.
Colombia and Ecuador exported 2,280000 stems (38%) and 2,040000 stems (34%) to Catalonia. Meanwhile The Netherlands market share leveled off to 20%.
Catalonians want ‘Freedom’
Occupying pride of place amid the over one hundred different rose varieties were ‘Freedom’ (60%) sourced from Ecuador and Colombia and ‘Red Naomi’ (10%) grown in The Netherlands and Colombia. Sales of Dutch grown ‘Grand Prix’ (5%) were also strong. With a market share of 90% the colour red proves the most popular for Sant Jordi while only 10% of the marketed roses feature different colours.
Making its debut this year was the tornless and large headed Rosa ‘Explorer’ coming in a spectacular dark red colour.
La Diada de Sant Jordi is celebrated on April 23rd and is named after Saint George or Sant Jordi in Catalan. Sant Jordi was a romantic and chivalrous guy. He also happens to be the patron saint of the six million inhabitants of Catalonia.
Known as ‘The Day of Lovers’, La Diada de Sant Jordi is often compared to Valentine’s Day, but with some uniquely Latin twist. The main event is the exchange of gifts between lovers; men give their novias roses while women give their novios a book to celebrate the occasion. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times.
Author: Ron van der Ploeg, FloraCulture Interantional