3 March 2005
Artificial Flowers & Plants(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2005)
Real plants and flowers need care and attention, and also have a limited lifespan; artificial flora, on the other hand, look good and last for ages. Hong Kong has a long tradition producing quality artificial varieties that look so real they could almost fool a horticulturist.
Twenty-one-year-old Luen Tai Plastic Fty Ltd, for example, produces different designs each year. "We offer more than 45,000 products and more than 200 polyester and plastic flower items," claims merchandiser Epo Cheung.
The wide range includes polyester single stem flowers, sprays, bushes, flower bundles, swags, candle rings, wreaths and garlands; plastic sprays, grass, grass mats, garlands and aquarium articles; greenery such as sprays, garlands, trees and vine bushes; Xmas items; and fruit, pots and baskets.
Production of the company's 30% OEM and 70% ODM output takes place at a factory in Huiyang in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland using polyester, plastic and metal sourced from Taiwan.
"Our most popular products are single stem flowers, especially red roses, and 18-head and 24-head flower bouquets," says Cheung. Single stem roses cost from US$0.50-4.00 per piece FOB China.
Bouquets cost from US$2.50-29.00 each, the higher price being for a large, fancy 30-head bouquet. "Currently our orange and yellow bouquet mix is in high demand," says Cheung.
Major export markets are the Middle East and South America, each accounting for 20%, with the US (10%) and Europe and elsewhere taking the remainder. "We continue to explore new markets, such as Poland," adds Cheung.
Luen Tai produces an average of 80 TEUs per month, mainly for the gift and houseware segments, with a smaller range of fashion accessories such as flower brooches.
Also busy supplying the gifts and premiums market is 14-year-old Ngar Tat Production Fty Ltd, which manufactures more than 4,000 varieties of artificial flowers, sprays, plants and Xmas arrangements.
Manager Raymond Kam says the company produces approximately 40 FEUs per month at its 60,000-square-metre mainland factory in Shenzhen. "We manufacture numerous seasonal and festive items," Kam elaborates. "The rose is a perennial favourite and comes in many varieties and colours, with natural peach and lilac very popular."
Single stem flowers form the biggest export item. "We produce many varieties according to the season, including hydrangeas, poppies and tulips."
Minimum orders are one FEU of assorted items, delivered 90 days after order confirmation. FOB Hong Kong prices range from about US$0.20 for a single stem flower to US$2.00 for an arrangement of several flowers.
Ngar Tat sources fabrics, plastic, polyester and wire from Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, while some 40% of its exports go to the US. Italy, Germany, the UK and Korea are other important markets.
The US is also the biggest market for 26-year-old OEM/ODM manufacturer Far East Bosan Industrial Ltd, and takes some 60% of exports according to product development officer Wendy Lee.
"Europe accounts for 25% of our business, and we plan to expand our business in Germany and Belgium," she says, adding that about 60% of exports are artificial flowers and 40% foliage and trees made mainly from polyester and plastic.
The company produces more than 1,000 items, including flower stems, bushes, candle rings, wreaths, swags, potted floral arrangements, greenery, floor plants, trees and Xmas items such as poinsettia bushes and arrangements.
Ngar Tat manufactures an average of 6-10 TEUs per month at facilities in Dongguan on the mainland. "Our most popular items are roses in bushes and other arrangements, in favourite colours like pink, cream and red," explains Lee. "The six-foot ficus tree also remains in strong demand."
The company sources polyester, plastic and dye from Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong, and has a minimum order requirement of five cartons per colour, depending on the item. Delivery is 60-75 days after order confirmation.
"The artificial flower business is stable," Lee adds. "However, we continually produce new items and create new colours and arrangements."
Another company producing ample choice is Tokyo Industrial Mfg Co Ltd, which has been manufacturing and exporting plastic and polyester flowers and plants for more than 30 years.
Tokyo has more than 10,000 own designs and also produces OEM orders, which account for 50% of its business, according to marketing manager Lawrence Wong.
"We produce literally anything related to artificial flowers and plants - from a simple single flower head with a ponytail holder costing about US$0.05 each FOB Hong Kong, to a large, two-foot, fancy flower arrangement including a stylish pot at about US$9.00 each," says Wong.
Some 90% of the company's output is plastic and polyester, although Wong says there are also some paper and EVA flowers. "Polyester has so many varieties of textures and finishes, such as flocked and crinkled, that today's artificial flowers look very real."
Minimum order value is US$2,500 for mixed items, delivered 45 days after order confirmation. The company sources polyester, low-density PE and azo-free dye from Taiwan, Japan and Germany.
The US is Tokyo Industrial's largest market (50%), followed by Europe (30%) and Japan. "We sell virtually everywhere, including countries such as Russia, Kenya, South Africa and Panama," enthuses Wong.
Which reflects one of the true beauties of artificial flowers - that anything from a delicate French rose to an exotic Asian species can be perennial favourites anywhere around the world.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Concord Design Classics Ltd
Far East Bosan Industrial Ltd
Lok Fai (HK) Import & Export Co Ltd
Luen Tai Plastic Fty Ltd