COSTA Rica exported $151 million in flowers and ornamental plants during 2003 – 3% more than in 2002. The sector is now responsible for nearly 40% of the country’s non-traditional agricultural exports (excluding bananas, coffee, pineapples, and sugar), according to the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER).
The European Union, which last year bought 52% of the country’s exports, is the largest buyer of Costa Rican plants. North America was second with 42%, and Asia third with 4%.
Costa Rica is home to 273 firms involved in the flower and plant export business. According to PROCOMER, the largest buyers of these products are the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Canada and the United States.
The country exports $66.5 million in plants, $55.3 million in foliage and $28.9 in flowers. Costa Rica imports approximately $9 million a year in bulbs and dormant tubers used to grow plants.
According to Bart de Lange, president of the Association of Costa Rican Flower Farmers (ACOFLOR), 90% of the country’s flower exports are sold to the United States. In 2003, the country exported roses, lilies, chrysanthemums and mixed bouquets, among others. Tropical flowers such as heliconias, ginger and foliage are popular in Europe, he said.
The country also exports geraniums, impatiens, mint, medical plants and ornamental plants.
“We’ve seen important growth since 2002,” de Lange explained. “There are factors that have benefited us, such as the experience in production and marketing and the improvement of the U.S economy.