Ecuador might be famous because of its status as the world’s largest exporter of bananas. What many do not realize is that the country is also one of the world’s largest exporters of flowers. Ecuador is currently ranked as the third-largest exporter of cut flowers.
Ecuador is successful with its flower industry because of its unique location. Whether it is true or not, it is said that roses grow straighter in the country because of its proximity to the equator. Having natural light throughout the year, supportive temperatures, and good soil are the main contributors to the outstanding flowers that are produced.
The Ecuador flower industry began to flourish in 1991 when the Andean Trade Preference Act was passed. This allowed the U.S. to promote legal industries within Ecuador in an attempt to push out drug trafficking. The act expired in 2013. The impact it created, however, continues to live on.
Interesting Ecuador Flower Industry Statistics
#1. 73% of the cut flowers which are exported from Ecuador are roses. (Financial Times)
#2. The Ecuador flower industry is responsible for the employment of 103,000 people. In 2013, the industry was able to generate $873 million in revenues. Most of those who are employed by the industry are women. (Financial Times)
#3. Most of the flower plantations which are located in Ecuador are found in the province of Pichincha. The province covers the Andes mountains, which means most plantations are developed at altitudes of 2,800m-3,000m above sea level. That doubles the growing cycle for the roses, which supports the long-stem varieties with larger heads. (Financial Times)
#4. Ecuador has one of the highest minimum wages in the region. Workers within the flower industry earn an average of $354 per month. That’s about 40% higher than what workers make in Columbia. (Financial Times)
#5. One of the largest flower plantations in Ecuador is BellaRosa. On the average day, the plantation produces about 90,000 roses. During peak production times, the plantation can ship almost 200,000 roses every day. (Financial Times)
#6. The United States is the largest export market for the Ecuador flower industry. About 40% of all exports head to the U.S. from local plantations each year. Russia has increased their influence recently as well, accounting for 23% of the export market. (Latin Roots Travel)
#7. More than 25,000 different species of flowers and plants grow in Ecuador. More than 4,000 orchid species are currently cultivated, with over 1,700 of them being endemic to the industry. (Latin Roots Travel)
#8. There are about 400 different varieties of roses that are cultivated in the highland plantations of Ecuador. (Latin Roots Travel)
#9. The total global value of the cut flowers industry is $7.5 billion. The value of the global floral trade industry, however, is $104.8 billion. (Statistic Brain)
#10. Americans spend $26.6 billion on floral products every year. About 80% of the flowers that are purchased in the U.S. are imported, with Ecuador being a major contributor to the market. (Statistic Brain)
#11. 36% of the flowers that are purchased from the Ecuador flower industry will be used for home decorations. (Statistic Brain)
#12. 45% of the flowers that are produced by the Ecuadorian plantations will be discarded before they are ever sold. (Statistic Brain)
#13. Two out of every three people say that they purchase flowers for themselves. (Statistic Brain)
#14. Colombia is the country with the top imported value for the flower industry in the world, responsible for 78% of total revenues. Ecuador receives 15% of the imported value of floral products. (Statistic Brain)
#15. Since 2013, the number of flower exports to the United Arab Emirates has risen by 86% for the Ecuadorian industry. That means the value of the exports has risen from $390,000 to $726,000. (Flowers and Cents)
#16. Belarus has increased the number of flower-related imports from Ecuador as well. In 2012, the country placed their first order for flowers from the industry, at a total value of $120,000. This year, Belarus will import almost $3 million in flowers from Ecuador. (Flowers and Cents)
#17. In total, the Ecuadorian flower industry maintains over 6,000 hectares of planted plantations over 8 provinces. In 1990, there were just 286 hectares cultivated for the production of flowers. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#18. There are about 800 companies actively involved within the Ecuador flower industry. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#19. Besides roses, Baby’s Breath (Gypsophile) is the most common flower found on industry plantations. About 975 hectares of this flower are cultivated each year. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#20. 65% of the flowers produced by the Ecuadorian flower industry come from Pichincha Province. The other major growing region in Ecuador is Cotopaxi province, which provides 23% of the inventory. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#21. Although roses come in many different colors, including multi-color options from Ecuador, there are no black roses. Roses that appear to be black are actually a very dark red color. (Flower Web)
Ecuador Flower Industry Trends and Analysis
Flowers, especially roses, are a product that is often treated as a luxury. When times are good, then people will purchase long-stem roses with large heads regularly. When economic times are difficult, the money spent on roses is eliminated to focus on other priorities.
That makes it a very dynamic industry that can be difficult to predict. Global trade is often affected by tariffs and treaties, which shifts who imports cut flowers from certain nations.
Even during the period when zero tariffs were assigned to Ecuadorian flowers, alleged dumping caused the U.S. to place a 40+% tariff on imports, which dramatically reduced the market for the Ecuador flower industry until the problems which triggered the tariffs were addressed.
The influence Russia has had on the flower industry in Ecuador is problematic for plantation owners as well. Year-to-year sales are down by more than 15%. In 2013, the export market declined by 26% and the value of the exports to Russia declined by more than 30%.
In the early 1990s, the U.S. was responsible for almost 90% of export revenues to the Ecuador flower industry. Although the market in the United States is still strong, the rest of the world is struggling to come along with that growth. That means the forecast for this industry could be troublesome should the U.S. experience another recession in the near future.