Prepping For A Much-Needed New Year


Originally printed in the November 2020 issue of Produce Business.

New Year wishes in floral seem to align with off-the-cuff advice to book early and hope for non-crippling freight rates.

Farewell 2020, and good riddance to a year that can be forgotten — but not quite yet. Retailers will want to offer festive bouquets for New Year’s Eve and January 1 as celebrations are likely to be intimate gatherings at home instead of big parties. “After the year we’ve all experienced, we believe many consumers will choose to miss joining the typical New Year’s Eve parties and opt for staying home. But they still deserve the glitz and glamour our New Year bouquets offer,” says Scott Hill, vice president sales and marketing for The USA Bouquet Company, Miami.

Cross-merchandising New Year’s Eve bouquets with sparkling wine and Champagne will especially be on-target this year as consumers have been plotting and planning clever ways via social media posts to kick 2020 to the curb and welcome a friendlier and healthier 2021.

What to expect when there is no plan on how to expect anything during a pandemic — that’s the conversation in Floral. The usual rumblings about things improving after the election have been bantered about so much that no one bothers to look for improvement until maybe after Valentine’s Day.


But first, retailers will want to make it convenient for consumers to brighten up their homes after “undecorating” from the holidays, by merchandising for National Houseplant Appreciation Day January 10. Jungle-ize the floral department with easy-to-maintain foliage plants and provide care-and-handling information in-store and online. Be prepared for the wave of “plant parents” and numerous other plant aficionados that emerged during the pandemic.

Plan to continue a theme of patriotism with red, white and blue colors, especially for the January 20 inauguration. Consumers are seeking comfort while wanting a stronger sense of community, and red, white and blue items, including balloons, will be used for décor for inauguration parties — even for at-home celebrations.


Valentine’s Day on a Sunday in 2021 gives retailers a three-day sales event that will be strengthened by Galentine’s Day on the 13th. Retailers are counting on that weekend to be strong with sales for gal pals and love birds staying in to celebrate with flowers and floral department gifts, such as self-care items including potted plants for home décor and elements of wellness for indoor spaces.

Meal kits, cookie decorating kits, spa kits — so what about floral kits? Do your bouquets engage customers and encourage them to do more than plop them in a vase? Okay, the first step is to follow the instructions on the flower food packet. The rest should be easy but busy consumers of the past are now consumers at home looking for all ways to engage family members in activities.


Savvy floral buyers have been tracking consumer buying patterns during the pandemic and adjusting to the less frequent store visits. If the once-a-week shopping trip remains steady into 2021, Steve Rosenbluth, vice president of Global Bouquet LLC, in Miami, anticipates buyers looking for longer lasting bouquets to satisfy consumers.


“Carns, minis and poms are longer lasting than so many other flowers, such as roses and hydranges. Shoppers are pleased with how long they last,” says Rosenbluth. He suggests consumers will be thrilled with the many new varieties of carnations.


If Joey Azout, owner of Alexandra Farms in Miami and Bogota, Colombia, has it his way, 2021 will be a year focusing on the lasting beauty, fragrance and availability of garden roses. Some floral buyers might not realize the positive attributes many garden roses possess.


“We have selected garden rose varieties that are hardy and have excellent vase lives. We have tested over 1,000 different varieties looking for these characteristics and so far have found them in only 40,” explains Azout. He says other varieties at the farm have been bred specifically for the cut flower market from garden rose stock — meaning Alexandra roses perform exceptionally well in a retail environment. Azout says they do not have the vase life of a hybrid tea rose, but their longevity is longer than that of Tulips or Hydrangeas.


Looking to 2021, Azout believes consumers who want something special in the floral department will select Garden Roses. From years of observation, he says customers will simply be attracted by the fragrance, or engaged by the color or shape of a garden rose.

Alexandra Farms has several garden rose consumer bunch programs available in 5 or 6, or 10 or 12 stem bunches. “They arrive in nice sleeves labeled Garden or Heirloom roses and a hang tag further explains the uniqueness of the offer,” says Azout.

It’s safe to say Garden Roses are not for all supermarkets. Azout assures those catering to a higher-end customer base and delivering perishable products to the stores every day or every other day will be pleased with the shelf life of his garden roses. Though not often requested, Alexandra Farms offers an extensive array of POP material for customers including photos, posters, variety labels, and more. He’s thinking in the New Year, retailers might especially want photos to alert customers to availability.