21 Sep 2017

Fuel crisis puts heat on flower industry

4:14 pm on 21 September 2017

Flower growers and exporters are being hit hard by the airline fuel shortage, with some already losing business.

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Flower growers have been badly affected by the jet fuel crisis because their product is perishable. Photo: 123rf

Airlines have had to ration fuel since the main pipeline from the Marsden Point oil refinery to Auckland ruptured last week.

The chair of the Flower Exporters Association, Mike Desmond, said many airlines were taking passengers over freight, making it harder to transport their goods.

Mr Desmond, who is also the head of Eastern and Global, which exports 800 tonnes of flowers each year, said not knowing when it will be fixed was the biggest problem.

"Basically the uncertainty is the trick, nobody quite knows what's going to happen next, nobody really knows when the problem's going to be solved, so when people are ordering off us, they say 'can you get me this order to Amsterdam next week?' and we have to say 'not sure'."

"They can't sell not sure so they go and buy it somewhere else," he said.

He said his company had lost of business because of the uncertainty and he believed the whole industry was doing it tough.

"It's debilitating to the industry and we just have to get through it as quick as we can."

"Unfortunately because we're a perishable crop, we don't have a whole lot of options because you can't sit on it, we've just got to find it somewhere to move it to."

He said it's been exceptionally hard given it's midway through the cymbidium season, which is one of the major flower crop exported out of New Zealand.

"[The timing] means it could be crucial for some exporters and some growers ... this could just knock the cream off the top of the cake and could cause problems for them."

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