The Association Behind Colombia’s Fast-Growing Floral Exports

Colombia has seen dramatic growth in recent years as a source of flower exports, with Valentine’s Day one of its most prominent. The trade group Asocolflores has been a big factor in that growth.

If you’re based in the U.S., there’s a three-in-four chance that the flowers you’re sending to your loved ones for Valentine’s Day are coming from a specific country—and that country isn’t the U.S.

In fact, it’s Colombia, a country that has come to redefine itself as one of the world’s most prominent flower exporters, sending 4 billion bulbs to the U.S. alone last year. Per The Washington Post, a major reason for this shift has been a combination of the U.S. war on drugs, which disrupted the illicit cocaine trade, and the increase of free trade agreements.

Another factor, of course, is the support of associations. For 45 years, the country’s primary floral industry trade group, Asocolflores, has overseen major growth within the industry. According to Flowerweb, the export-focused group represents nearly three quarters of Colombia’s flower exports and takes an active role in helping to keep the country’s flowers front of mind around the globe. Just one example of that is the trade group’s English-language “Colombia, Land of Flowers” website, which is targeted toward outside markets, as is its Flowers of Colombia social media campaign.

Another way that the industry is working to build awareness for itself is through sustainability efforts. As reported by La Republica [in Spanish], more than 20 companies are taking part in the Florverde Sustainable Flowers endeavor, which emphasizes that fair labor practices and eco-friendly growing strategies are being used.

The country’s efforts have largely been successful, helping to create a reported $1.4 billion export industry, according to El Espectador [in Spanish].

In a recent interview [in Spanish] with El Espectador, Asocolflores President Augusto Solano noted that the industry was overall in an upswing, but that it was easily swayed by a wide array of risk factors, from storms to continually shifting export rates. One thing that helps this year, per Solano, is that the holiday falls on a Wednesday. Why’s that a big deal? Simple: Flowers often get delivered to offices, which means that more people will buy flowers for loved ones, rather than going out for dinner or doing a different Valentine’s Day activity.

And, of course, Asocolflores isn’t just busy around Valentine’s Day. The group works to support Colombia’s floral export industry year-round, including through the launch of initiatives with the Society of American Florists. Last year, for example, the two groups teamed up on an endeavor to target interior designers.

So, if your bouquet says it came from Colombia this year, know that an association helped it get on your desk.

(Liliboas/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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