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Q&A: Canadian flower growers and exporters face unique challenges

I recently reached out to Joshua Bulk, co-owner at Rosa Flora Ltd. in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada, to discuss the impact Canadian flowers have on the U.S. floral industry from a grower’s perspective. The following are the highlights of that conversation.

The Produce News: What is the business relationship like between Canadian flower growers and the U.S. floral industry?

Joshua Bulk:Our relationship with the U.S. [floral industry] is a positive one and we look at our neighbors to the south as good partners in business.

TPN: Are there any particular obstacles you face as a Canadian flower grower?

JB: Each grower has its own unique issues and pressure, but there are common ones I think all Canadian growers and exporters face.

TPN: What are those issues?

JB: Currently the biggest one is currency movement. A couple of years ago, we were at parity or higher and, knowing the competitive pressures out there, we cannot always change the price to mirror the currency change. We have since rebounded to a lower Canadian dollar, but that has been increasing in strength these last few months. [Currently $1 Canada = $.81 U.S.]

TPN: Any other specific pressures?

JB: We have more in common with our American growers than with those in countries with different price structures for energy and labor. Ontario is quickly turning into a jurisdiction that makes it tough to do business with the increase in minimum wage (over 30 percent in two years), rising electricity costs (highest prices jurisdiction in North America), as well as our Cap and Trade legislation. [Cap and Trade is a program designed to help fight climate change and reward businesses that reduce their greenhouse emissions].

TPN: Are there any Canada/U.S border-crossing problems?

JB: Crossing the border provides some delays with time and paperwork, although we participate in C-TPAT to mitigate some of these delays. [Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary supply chain security program led by U.S. Customs & Border Protection focused on improving the security of private companies’ supply chains with respect to terrorism]. The U.S. population in the Northeast is also an attractive market [for us] as it is very close by and we can provide a 24-hour delivery-to-arrival window.

TPN: What are your thoughts on the competitiveness between both marketplaces?

JB: Competition with U.S. flower growers is good, as it forces each of us to provide better quality, better service and competitive pricing in order to ‘get the sale,’ which should allow our wholesale customers to get the best product.