Did you know about 22% of Americans bought flowers last Valentine’s Day, according to industry statistics? That single-day surge added about $2.3 billion to the U.S. economy.
If you’ve purchased a bouquet of flowers for a loved one recently, perhaps a word of thanks goes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
ARS and the floral industry have worked together on the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI) since 1999, when Congress first authorized funding to identify priority research goals and key projects in environmental horticulture.
Starting with an initial budget of $1 million, FNRI has funded projects that enhance all segments of the floral and nursery industries, including post-harvest technology, water quality, improved plant varieties, and pest and disease management. These projects are conducted all around the country, including at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. Today, ARS leads floriculture and nursery research projects representing more than $37 million in high-priority issues at 22 locations, including many university partners.
Since FNRI’s inception, annual sales within the U.S. commercial flower industry have grown dramatically – including a 16% increase from 2019 to 2021, when sales reached nearly $6.5 billion for the first time ever. According to Tim Rinehart, ARS national program leader for specialty crops, global spending on floral products has also grown tremendously, which has created more U.S. consumers and an even more robust marketplace.
“The floral industry enriches people’s everyday lives through plants, and FNRI research helps make improved health and happiness accessible to everyone,” Rinehart said.
USDA and ARS are driven to create more opportunities and better markets for the floral and nursery industry through its cutting-edge research and scientific innovations.