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Outlook 2014: California-grown flowers are trending

When does a trend become the standard? Is it two years? Three years? Five years?

For the fourth consecutive year the California Cut Flower Commission has seen an increase in the annual sales of flowers and greens from its farms. As the largest producer of U.S.-grown flowers, California’s flower-farming families have certainly continued to benefit from a general market trend towards locally grown foods.

This has helped to inspire events and origin-based promotions designed to help consumers ensure that the flowers at the center of their table are as local as the food on their plates. The momentum for locally grown flowers will continue to grow in 2014.

Debra Prinzing’s book, Slow Flowers, published in February 2013, provided another example of the growing consumer interest in buying blooms closer to home. As a follow up to her popular book, The 50-Mile Bouquet, Prinzing’s play off of the slow food terminology has helped to contextualize the reasons people would consider sourcing their flowers locally, like they would their food.

Her 52-week experiment documented in Slow Flowers showed that it is possible for people to find enough beautiful ingredients in one’s own garden or region during certain times of the year for creating interesting seasonal floral arrangements.

In 2013, the California Cut Flower Commission also updated its research on consumer awareness, finding that 74 percent of Americans have no idea where the flowers they purchased were grown. However, that same study found that given the choice, more than half (58 percent) would prefer California-grown flowers. That is a three-point increase in interest over the same study that was commissioned in 2008.

Consumer awareness of origin has also appeared to jump, with the study showing an 11-percent increase over that same five-year period. That is all good news for America’s flower farmers and should provide inspiration for retailers eager for better ways to connect with their customers.

To help reassure consumers they are getting the most sustainable flowers available in the United States, the CCFC will launch a sustainability certification program for California’s flower farms and their flowers in 2014. Currently under development by SureHarvest of California, the program is being designed to complement the CA Grown brand for consumers who care where their flowers come from.

What has been described by many in the floral industry as a trend now appears to become a standard expectation for a growing group of flower-buying consumers who want to support their local flower farmer.

In many ways, this trend will redefine how our floral industry does business.

Kasey Cronquist is chief executive officer and ambassador for the California Cut Flower Commission. He can be reached at kcronquist@ccfc.org.