Flower industry in major developed countries – Japan

By | 30/04/2015

Flower industry in major developed countries – Japan

 

Since 2000, with the improvements in quality of living and urbanization, the flower business has been on a fast rise in Japan with the awareness among the Japanese people about the role and importance of the “flowers and greenery” that bring quality and comfort in daily living. The flower business that touches people’s emotions is becoming popular among the Japanese as they become more interested in nature.

global flower market

global flower market

In fact, according to one estimate, Japan is the world’s second largest flower market following the Netherlands. Owing to the growth in the domestic flower industry caused by the expansion in explosive demands for flowers in Japan, Japan has become an Asia flower logistics hub as well as a representative flower importing country. This is because, despite the increase in demand for flowers, the volume of flower imports has increased due to the decrease in the flower farming area and productivity. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of the Japanese market which has a great impact on the flower logistics market.

 

1. Decreasing trend in flower production

<Table 1> Flower farming area and total production between 2003 and 2010 in Japan

Year

Farming area (ha)

Total production

(1000 stems)

Increase from previous year

Farming area

Total production

2003

18,650

5,301

- 2%

-2%

2004

18,260

5,102

-2%

-4%

2005

17,910

5,022

-2%

-2%

2006

17,450

4,934

-1%

-2%

2007

17,230

4,829

-1%

-2%

2008

16,840

4,734

-2%

-2%

2009

16,500

4,551

-2%

-4%

2010

16,200

4,351

-2%

-4%

<Source: Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Statistics Intelligence>

The flower farming area and production in Japan has been on the decline since 2003. The farming of chrysanthemums which used to take up the most volume among the Japanese flower breeds produced is decreasing from 5,950ha in 2003, and the round chrysanthemum which used to have the most harvest volume among the chrysanthemums is showing a great degree of decline. The total volume of round chrysanthemums harvested in Japan also decreased by 14% 1,127 million stems in 2003 to 901 million stems in 2010 and spray, another breed, also decreased from 281 million stems in 2003 to 273 million stems in 2010, while the small chrysanthemum also decreased from 531 million stems in 2003 to 484 million stems in 2010.

 

2. Most of production consumed domestically

<Table 2> Flower production volume in Japan from 1990~2002 (Unit: thousand ha, 100 million yen)

Year

1990

1995

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Farming area

45.7

48.4

47.1

47.7

48.0

48.3

49.5

Production volume

5,573

6,233

6,346

6,401

6,657

6,510

6,540

Export volume

14

8

10

12

13

14

16

Import volume

278

440

460

434

422

427

469

Volume of domestic consumption

5,275

6,665

6,796

6,823

6,866

6,888

6,898

Flowers produced in Japan are mostly consumed domestically with virtually none exported.

In comparison, the import volume of flower import exceeds 18 billion yen which is significantly higher than exports. The increase in imports continued into 2010, slowed down somewhat during the global economic downturn, and the flower market seems to be once again contracting due to the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake in early 2010. In particular, the significant characteristic is that most of the incomes from flower imports rely on the imports of cut flowers.

 

3. Increase in imports following reduction in the production of cut flowers

The reason for the increase in the import of cut flowers is the reduction in the farming area and volume of delivery of cut flowers.

As can be seen in the table below, the cut flowers take up a very high percentage in Japan’s flowers farmed than pot flowers. However, the percentage of decrease from previous year shows that the farming area and production volume for cut flowers declined by 2% from the previous year, while the farming area and production for pot flowers increased by 3% and 2% from the previous year. That is to say, the farming production of cut flowers dropped and the farming production of pot flowers increased.

<Table 3> Farming of flowers in Japan in 2002

Category

Farming area

(ha)

Production volume

(Stems)

Change from previous year

(%)

Farming area

Production volume

Cut flowers

19,000

5,413,000

-2

-2

Pot flowers

2,190

319,800

3

2

This was when changes in preferences began to be showing in the Japanese flower industry. Such trends continued and the total farming area for cut flowers in 2010 decreased to 16,200 ha, a 13% drop from 18,650ha in 2003. Owing to this, the cut flower production volume also showed a natural decreasing trend, and the total production volume also decreased by 17% from 5,301ha in 2003 to 4,351ha in 2011.

 

4. Increase in reliance on import of cut flowers from neighboring countries

With the drop in the production of cut flowers, the volume of imports grew gradually. The import volume of cut flowers for each country is as follows. As you can see the amount of imports changes depending on geographic location.

<Table 4> Japan’s imports of cut flowers by exporting countries (Unit: million yen)

Category

Netherlands

Thailand

New Zealand

Korea

Others

Total

1999

3,590

3,717

2,191

1,443

7,016

17,411

2000

3,717

3,038

2,081

2,038

6,983

17,857

2001

3,032

2,939

2,145

2,379

7,910

18,405

2002

2,244

2,914

2,057

2,218

8,646

18,082

<Source: Yoon Jae-Gil, Japan’s flower industry, Jinju Industrial University Horticulture Department, 2005>

We can see that the import volume from the Netherlands decreased significantly, while reliance on imports from Thailand is also gradually decreasing. On the other hand, reliance on such neighboring countries as New Zealand and Korea is increasing. This because the closer the cut flowers are imported, they tend to be fresher and the costs of logistics differs from one country to another.

In the next installment, we will take a closer look at the changes in the Japanese flower market.

It is safe to say it is not coincidence that such as Japan the country has developed logistics and flower scm system as well as container ship management has this developed flower market.

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