Taiwan Causes Competition for Orchid Market

August 27, 2004 - 12:32

A once sugar caned filled county with miles and miles of open fields has began filling that space with some different types of profitable crops, orchids. According to the article “Orchids flourish on Taiwanese production line” by Keith Bradsher, published in the New York Times (NYT), Tuesday August 24, 2004 stated that Taiwan is in the process of building greenhouses in order to dominate the world’s $2 billion orchid industry.

In recent years orchids have become much more popular all throughout the world amongst consumers (For more information in the trend, see the June 2003 issue of GPN at the article called “Orchids: Not Just a Specialty Crop Anymore”) . More and more growers are getting to the business of growing orchids because of the profitability it is causing.

However, the only problem is that according to the NYT article, “If the Taiwan effort is successful, orchids could lose their image as the high-priced but finicky princes of the floral world and become lesser nobility, almost as inexpensive as poinsettias. The favored flower for debutantes' corsages a generation ago, orchids are already starting to appear in rows of $15 potted specimens at mass merchandisers like Home Depot, and seem poised to become even cheaper.”

Just a little over 10 years ago, orchids were seen as a special plant that was only a collector’s item or seen in a wealthy atmosphere however, times have changed and people are buying more and more. With the amount of research that has been and is currently being done, orchids are much easier to grow and put into mass production than they were a decade ago.

“Now, if Taiwan is successful, there could be orchids for the masses. Seeking a cash crop to replace sugar, which is plagued by falling prices, Taiwan is hoping to double its orchid business, and the government plans to bring heavy public spending into the previously private world of growing orchids,” according to the NYT.

In an effort to stop this new plan, a United States federal court plans to hear arguments in the fall from Hawaiian orchid growers who don’t like what Taiwan is doing to take over the orchid market, according to the NYT. Currently Taiwan produces mostly phalaenopsis orchids, the most common type.

According to the NYT, “This summer, after six years of sometimes bitter review, the United States Department of Agriculture approved regulations that would allow potted phalaenopsis to be imported from Taiwan. But orchid growers in Hawaii have asked a federal court for a preliminary injunction to block the imports. The Hawaiian growers contend that the potting material, a type of moss, could harbor dangerous insects like blood-sucking midges and tiny thrips, which can carry plant diseases.” Though it may cause for more jobs in Taiwan to add more orchid production, orchid growers in other parts of the world may lose theirs, hence the concern Hawaii is showing in this matter.

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