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Dueling shows in Ecuador provide value to floral industry

Fall is the time for open houses and floral conventions, with the first major fall shows taking place in Quito, Ecuador. For the first time, Expoflores, the Ecuadoran Flower Growers and Exporters Association, hosted its own show with the inaugural event taking place in the brand new Metropolitan Convention Center of Quito. A few short miles away, HPP Exhibitions hosted their biennial Agriflor show in the Centro de Exhibiciones Quito.

EXPOFLOROver 120 exhibitors displayed their products at the inaugural Expo Flor Ecuador show, which was hosted by Expoflores and took place at the new Metropolitan Convention Center of Quito.What had previously been the Quito International Airport is now a city park, and also the home of the Metropolitan Convention Center of Quito. A Herculean effort by construction crews put the finishing touches on the center just in time to host the Expo Flor Ecuador show, which, with over 120 exhibitors, was the site for the major growers to show their wares. A spectacular view of the Cotopaxi volcano greeted attendees and the exhibitors did a magnificent job of displaying the flowers that make Ecuador famous.

The Agriflor show consisted of many smaller growers that had not exhibited at previous shows. This was an interesting opportunity for them to introduce themselves to buyers in a show format that heretofore had been the domain of the larger growers. Flower growers from Ecuador and Colombia, as well as cargo handlers and agriculture supply vendors, found a receptive audience in the attendees that I spoke with.

The value of shows like these is made clear by the meetings, both formal and informal, of people with varying perspectives, all coming together with the common goal of growing the floral industry. One such meeting took place over breakfast before the inauguration of the Expo Flor Ecuador show with representatives of Expoflores, Asocoflores, Cal Flowers, PMA, SAF, The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative and Floral Daily. Much of the discussion centered on how industry associations can work together to help increase consumption, specifically in North America, by focusing on campaigns with a common theme that shed a positive light on all flowers, regardless of type or origin. The subject of sustainability was discussed, with most participants stating that this has not been a major resonant issue with the North American consumer. Jeroen Oudheusden of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative explained how sustainability did not become a major issue with the European floral industry until forces outside of the industry drove negative messaging about floral production and transportation, necessitating a “sustainability” campaign as a defensive measure. It was Jeroen’s suggestion that perhaps a preemptive campaign could avoid the type of problems that the European industry was forced to contend with, while drawing attention to the many positive attributes of the industry: psychological health of consumers, employment opportunities for people in producing countries (especially women) among others.

On the last day of the Expo Flor Ecuador show, growers and attendees broke out in a spontaneous round of applause in recognition of the fact that they had successfully pulled off their first show. The doubts about whether or not the venue would be completed on time were now a memory and all that remained was to have a big party to celebrate, which of course they did like only South Americans can.

Frank Biddle is managing partner at Tradewinds International in Boulder, CO. He can be contacted at Frank@twiconsol.com.