Ornamental Floriculture and Nursery Products

SIC 0181

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in the production of ornamental plants and other nursery products, such as bedding plants, bulbs, florists' greens, flowers, shrubbery, potted plants, flower and vegetable seeds and plants, and sod. These products may be grown outdoors or under cover of a greenhouse, frame, cloth house, or lath house.

The floriculture market grew steadily during the first decade of the 2000s but dipped slightly in 2008 due, in part, to a slow economy. The total crop value at wholesale for all growers with $100,000 or more in sales was $3.83 billion in 2009, down from $4.11 billion in 2008 and $4.32 billion in 2007. While comprising 41 percent of all growers, operations with $100,000 or more in sales account for 96 percent of the total value of floriculture crops. The two largest state producers of U.S. floriculture, California and Florida, together accounted for approximately 46 percent of production. Adding the next three largest-producing states, Michigan, Texas, and North Carolina, the top five states accounted for approximately two-thirds of the total value of the industry. However, the industry is highly fragmented, with the top 50 producers generating less than 25 percent of the industry's revenues.

Annual bedding and garden plants make up the largest segment of the industry with annual revenues of $1.3 billion in 2009. This production value, however, reflects a downward trend from 2007 and 2008 production values of $1.85 billion and $1.74 billion, respectively. The values for other segments in 2009 were as follows: potted plants, $632 million; perennial plants, $492 million; and foliage plants (indoor/patio use), $454 million. At $359 million, cut flowers made up less than 10 percent of the industry, and cultivated cut greens, at $74 million, contributed another 2 percent to overall production values. This segment of the industry suffered in part from increased foreign competition.

The amount of covered area in floriculture crop production in 2008 was 729 million square feet, down from 916 million square feet in 2005. Greenhouse space, which accounted for 57 percent of the total covered area, covered 414 million square feet, compared to 550 million square feet in 2005. Area covered by film plastic structures in 2008 was 294 million square feet, down significantly from 393 million square feet in 2005. Shade and temporary cover also declined, from 366 million square feet in 2005 to 314 million square feet in 2008, as did open ground usage, from 41,350 acres in 2005 to 33,150 acres in 2008.

The cut flower industry continued to suffer from foreign competition, particularly regions with warmer climates where growers do not need to heat greenhouses and labor is less expensive. Imports account for approximately 60 percent of cut flowers sold in the United States. The top import countries are Colombia and Ecuador, which supply over three-quarters of all U.S. imports of fresh cut flowers. These two countries, which have long growing seasons and cheap labor supplies, supply 95 percent of the roses, 94 percent of chrysanthemums, and 99 percent of carnations brought into the United States. The Netherlands is another important supplier.

The wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers was $359 million in 2009, down from $403 million for 2008. The first half of the month of May, which includes Mother's Day, accounts for approximately 20 percent of florists' annual holiday retail flower sales. Domestically, organically produced products were becoming more popular in the late years of the first decade of the 2000s and early 2010s. However, the economic recession late in the decade limited consumers' disposable income, and potential changes in immigration laws were threatening the industry's access to cheap labor needed for harvesting.

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