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Flowers and International Women’s Day go hand in hand in Russia

Traditionally, Moerman Lilium in De Lier supplies large quantities of lilies for International Women

International Women’s Day is one of the most important Holidays of the year in the horticultural industry. In the weeks running up to the 8th of March, both supply and prices start to increase. Traditionally, Moerman Lilium in De Lier supplies large quantities of lilies for International Women’s Day, with Russia being its primary market. The nursery hereby focuses on the high end segment.

The Moerman nursery – with its head office based in De Lier and 2 subsidiary locations in Honselersdijk and Maasdijk – mainly focuses on the production of heavy graded lilies aimed at the high end market. “We grow approximately 6 million stems annually on 16 acres of greenhouse, focusing on Orientals and partially OT’s”, says Jaap Moerman. Main varieties are Universe, Tabledance, different varieties of Roselily, Crystal Blanca and Asterian. “A part of the range is meant for the English retail. Their main colours are pink and white, which is split 50/50 between the two. Another part goes to Russia and surrounding countries through Dutch export companies. The split of colours in this region is 80% white and 20% pink.”

So many bunches

The main market for flowers on International Women’s Day is Russia and surrounding countries. “International Women’s Day and flowers go hand in hand in Russia. If you’re out and about on the 8th of March, you won’t believe what you are seeing. Everywhere you look, you see people carrying bunches of flowers. You are off the map as a woman, if you don’t receive flowers on the 8th of March. This is hugely important to the vain Russian woman. Facebook explodes with pictures of women and the many bunches of flowers they receive on the day.” It’s tradition. Even though Women’s Day remains important, Moerman however, expects this year’s demand to decrease slightly. “Since the drop of the rouble and the whole issue around import restrictions, things have turned rough in Russia. It’s hard work getting flowers into the country at the moment. And the negative exchange rate of the rouble means that the middle class can’t even afford a bunch of flowers. The rich will continue to buy, however this group is relatively small. Therefore, I expect sales to be less than previous years. In the weeks prior to Women’s Day, there is already a noticeable lack of demand amongst customers. Everything is left to the last minute, the week before the 8th of March.”

Slimmer versions

Moerman doesn’t grow special varieties for International Women’s Day. “However, we do put out extra of the bestsellers on the Russian market. Think of Universe and Tabledance.” What’s also noticeable is the demand for lighter grade products nowadays. “This all has to do with keeping down the costs. Lighter grades means more stems to a box, which is favourable when trying to lower transport costs.” Moerman expects tulips to benefit from the current economic climate. “A bunch of tulips is very affordable, not in the last place due to the much lower transport costs. As for the sales to the UK, these have been very successful. English Mother’s Day falls in the same week on the 6th of March this year. Fortunately, the sales for this Holiday have been very good. Our flowers are sold in the higher end supermarkets, similar to Albert Heijn in The Netherlands.

Text: Monique Ooms
Photography: René Faas

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