Florists importing women's day tulips from Finland

Tulips. Source: Priit Luts/ERR

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women's Day – Naistepäev in Estonian – a traditionally busy time for florists. Some suppliers are this year selling flowers imported from Finland, in an effort to keep down costs.

ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday that flowers are 5-10 percent more expensive this year, than last year, largely due to the soaring energy prices and inflation experienced since then.

Jaak Ungerson, manager of one Tallinn-based supplier, told AK that: "Last year's energy prices frightened us. In September, natural gas was 23.5 times more expensive, for me, while wood chips, which are our main sources of heating, were four times more expensive."

Flower sales in general on March 8 in Estonia usually number in the hundreds of thousands, AK reported.

This year, Ungerson's company decided not to take any big risks with energy prices, and is importing tulips whose bulbs are, naturally, of Dutch origin, while they are grown in greenhouses closer to Estonia – in Finland.

Estonia's northern neighbor pays operating subsidies to flower growers, AK reported, and energy prices there, while hit, are not aas high as those in Estonia.

State support has also helped in erecting larger and more modern greenhouses than those available in Estonia.

Ungerson said that Nurmiko's own market garden covers around half a hectare, compared with the 5 ha (a little over 12 acres) their Finnish supplier enjoys.

"They have much larger volumes; their s is almost 20 million tulips, which is where the efficiency just comes into play," he went on.

At the same time, the imports mean Nurmiko does not need to hike its prices significantly for women's day this year, while their own greenhouses are not completely empty – flowers for mother's day, which in Estonia falls in May, are under cultivation there, for instance.

Sales manager at another compay, Rikets, told AK that their tulips were home-grown, as it were.

The manager, Getrin Hermliin, said: "This year we will naturally be more careful. At the start of the season, in December, it was the first time we had had to shut down for a month, in order to save a little on heating costs and start cultivation later. The first tulips arrived this year around Valentine's Day, not at Christmas time, as is usually the case."

Hermliin said the company had nonetheless kept heating costs down due to investments made several years ago, including into solar energy.

Nevertheless, in order to save costs, the company limited its output to 400,000 tulips this year, down 100,000 from the previous year.

According to Hermliin, flower growing's future in Estonia depends on what happens in the Netherlands – importing may still work out cheaper there in the long-term due to subsidies etc., though the public are prepared to pay a little more for locally-grown varieties, including less common varieties, she added.

The effect of rising prices can also be seen with online stores, AK reported, where smaller and more simple bouquets are more common than the larger ones with, say, 50 roses in total.

In any case, Head Naistepäeva!

Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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