COVID-19 outbreak leads to demise of millions of flowers in Europe

Nathan Howes
COVID-19 outbreak leads to demise of millions of flowers in Europe

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached epic proportions worldwide, in nearly every aspect of daily life. While it has greatly increased the demand for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, it’s having the opposite impact on air travel, and now, flowers, in parts of the globe.

The pandemic couldn’t have happened at a worse time in the Netherlands, where it is in the midst of the tulip season. The virus has led to a drastic drop in the demand for several flower varieties including tulips, roses and chrysanthemums, among other types.

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Aa a result, in an unprecedented move, the country has had to destroy millions of flowers, which normally would have been used for a romantic gesture or on Mother’s Day. Instead, diggers picked them up for their demolition.

The gesture is a first-time occurrence for the Royal FloraHolland, a sizable auction house for flowers, which has been in existence for more than 100 years. According to the auction house, between 70 and 80 per cent of the Netherlands’ total annual flower production is being destroyed.

"The only solution is that we destroyed them," Michel van Schie, spokesman for Royal FloraHolland, told AFP. "This is really the first time that we have to do this.

In the Netherlands, tulips are seen as much of a national identity as windmills, cheese and clogs, so the elimination of this many flowers is considered to be a significant blow.

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"We've never seen something like this before," said Prisca Kleijn, head of the Royal Association of Bulb Producers, in an interview with CTV. "There's no demand for flowers anymore because of the coronacrisis in the whole of Europe."

The pandemic really has come at "the worst moment in the year," Kleijn added. "We have Mother's Day coming and the tulip growers start harvesting from January until April-May so it's right in the middle of the season, when they have to earn their money," she said.

Since many shoppers across the world are stockpiling essentials as the virus outbreak worsens, the association said it was launching a campaign encouraging customers to "buy flowers, not toilet paper."

Source: CTV