Flower prices are rising at an alarming rate in the lead up to the upcoming Ethiopian New Year celebrations, leaving retailers bewildered by the shortage and scrambling to keep up with increasing wholesale costs.
Flower is a major export for Ethiopia, generating over half a billion dollars in revenues annually. While the local market isn’t as large as exports, domestic demand has been growing rapidly amongst urban populations, especially in Addis Ababa.
A single flower now costs over seven birr, two times the price from just last week, according to retailers. Supply issues and strong demand ahead of the upcoming holidays have caused prices to spike dramatically.
Adanech Abebe, owner of Awlo Building’s lemon flower and gift shop, said price hikes are customary around holidays but this year’s increase has been steeper than usual. “It always goes up around celebrations,” she noted.
Some retailers attribute the surge to road closures and security concerns disrupting transportation of flowers from growing areas like Bahir Dar, Ziway and Kosobar.
Yeshi Asefa of the Sara Flower and Gift Shop has also witnessed volatile price jumps.
“They’re saying no flowers are available now after rising from 3 birr on Tuesday to 4 birr, then 6-7 birr on Thursday,” she recounted in confusion.
Popular varieties such as roses experience especially high holiday demand, driving costs higher.
With supply chains in disarray and costs fluctuating wildly ahead of Ethiopian New Year festivities, florists warn of dwindling stocks and increased rates industry-wide.
“Prices doubled to 10 birr overnight and may hit 20 birr tomorrow so we are selling at 25-30 birr,” she remarked.
Flower farming is a major industry in Ethiopia, with the east African nation exporting millions of stems each year and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Roses, gerbera daisies, carnations and chrysanthemums are among the varieties that thrive in Ethiopia’s ideal high-altitude growing conditions, which provide warm days and cool nights.
While exports are predominantly focused on meeting European demand, Ethiopia’s domestic flower market has also experienced considerable growth in recent years to meet the needs of an expanding urban middle class, particularly in Addis Ababa, where flowers are a mainstay of holidays, celebrations and daily home decor.