Flowers prices up 10 per cent over last Lunar New Year

Inflation and creeping development on farmland in the New Territories are pushing up prices

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 4:35am

Flower shoppers are likely to enjoy attractive, blossoming flowers during the Lunar New Year - although at higher prices - with most growers saying they expect profitable business.

Fung Ching, who has been growing flowers for more than 40 years at Choi Lee Nursery in Yuen Long, said flower prices were on average 10 per cent higher than last year's due to inflation.

Although he has fewer blooms this year as some plants were destroyed when Typhoon Vicente hit the city in July, the 74-year-old said the flowers were all beautiful and he was satisfied with the seasonal flowers like peach blossom, chrysanthemum and narcissus.

"I expect the sales to be good. After all, it's the one time of the year to display flowers for the Lunar New Year," he said.

Li Wing-keung, owner of Keung Kee Garden in Tai Po said the prices of his peach flowers were up by about 10 per cent and he had a good yield.

Prices are higher due to inflation, pay rises and shrinking farmland in the New Territories and on the mainland as development expands. Half of his blooms are grown in the city, while half are imported from the mainland.

Over 90 per cent of his peach flowers, which sell for hundreds of dollars, are already reserved. They are both sold for resale and to consumers.

Uncle Lee, owner of Shing Kee Garden, which mainly imports tangerines from the mainland, said his prices would be more than 20 per cent higher with a good-quality pot selling for more than HK$200.

"There has been less produce from the mainland … there is less and less farmland there as more and more is used for building factories and apartments." More expensive pots, fertiliser, soil and higher wages for the decreasing number of growers also accounted for the climbing price.

Not all growers tell the same story.

Madam Wen, who runs Tsai Kee Farm in Tai Po, said her sales were half last year's as the flowers had opened earlier.

"There has been more sunshine this year so the flowers bloomed earlier, and so nobody wants to buy them," she said.

But Wen, whose flowers are all grown in Hong Kong, said she would not raise the price as the blooms were especially for old customers.

The 2013 Lunar New Year Fair in Victoria Park runs from February 4 to February 10.

While flower sellers peddle their colourful wares, political parties will peddle their messages. The Civic Party will open its usual stall from February 4 to February 9 featuring chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee's calligraphy along with Chinese paintings for fundraising.

Symbolic items for sale will also include flip-flops with "down" and "force" printed on each side and "C" and "Y" on the bottom, calling on Hongkongers to step hard on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.