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According to a recent survey, 85 percent of consumers have no idea where their flowers come from, but a majority of them would choose domestically grown flowers over imports. Yet, with about 80 percent of the U.S. floral market supplied by imports today, that choice is limited, if not altogether unavailable to consumers.

CRONQUISTKasey CronquistEven if a retailer offered both domestic and imported flowers, without clear labeling or a point-of-purchase promotions, the average person isn’t able to walk into a store and identify whether a bouquet of roses was grown in California or offshore.

However, after decades of consumer apathy toward the origin of flowers, times are changing. Blame it on the recession, the sustainability movement, social media or first lady Michelle Obama’s book, American Grown, the American Grown movement seems here to stay.

In 2013, the California Cut Flower Commission is doubling down on its efforts to work with retailers, industry organizations, designers, wedding and event planners to connect their brand and their customers with the American Grown movement, helping them to explain that “California’s flowers are America’s flowers.”

The example of increasing demand for Made in USA and American Grown in other product categories is translated for floral by the adoption of the CA Grown program in markets across the county. CCFC’s promotional activities in 2013 will, for the third year, include support for the CA Grown certification of floats at the Tournament of Roses Parade, support of grower open houses and leveraging industry events and research promoting American Grown Flowers.

The CA Grown label program is already popular within our industry; the floral industry represents the largest group of registered licensees. In addition, CCFC’s membership in that program provides industry-wide access for retailers who want to develop the “CA Grown” brand in their stores. In 2013 we’ll be increasing efforts to assist retailers in joining this program.

In 2012, the CCFC worked with the CA Grown agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to certify two Rose Parade floats “CA Grown.” This effort garnered more than 6 million media impressions during the weeks surrounding the Rose Parade and a nice acknowledgement by the parade hosts on the ABC television network.

Our regional open house events in Arcata, Monterey and Carpinteria give our farms the opportunity to open their greenhouse doors and allow the consuming public to get to know a flower farmer and understand why, in the current market, California’s flowers are America’s flowers.    

Fortunately the CCFC is not alone in our efforts to promote California Grown and American grown flowers. A study by the Boston Consulting Group recently found that more than 80 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for Made in USA products, with 93 percent of these respondents saying it’s because they want to keep jobs in the United States. CCFC will be working with buyers, helping them develop their relationships with our farms in California for year-round access to American grown flowers.

Kasey Cronquist is chief executive officer-ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission. Mr. Cronquist can be reached at