Hawaii flower prices rising due to Thailand turmoil - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii flower prices rising due to Thailand turmoil

Olaa Hanohano Olaa Hanohano
Angela Butler Angela Butler
Daro Nason Daro Nason

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The smell of fresh flower lei can only mean one thing, graduation season is here. But this year selections are scarce because of problems overseas, where many popular flowers come from. Some shop owners have had to increase prices, just as the demand is going up.

It's a graduation tradition around the state. Piles of fresh flower lei around the necks of seniors, the season means lei shops are bustling with activity. May to mid June is always the busiest for sellers. But this year, customers may find orchids and tuberose are in short supply.

"They are imported from Thailand, we have our local flowers but the orchids are the ones that is number one to people" said lei shop worker OlaaHanohano.

And those are the imports, affected by the turmoil in Thailand. Severe, violent and deadly protests against the government have killed more than 80, and led to stringent restrictions on exports such as fresh flowers. Buyers say this comes after a bout of bad weather that had already decreased flower production.

 "Being that we had 10,000 before, we only get 3,000 now."

And with demand so high, prices are on the rise.

"I was expecting it to be higher. Normally leis are like five dollars, you can get them for four sometimes five but now they're averaging about eight to thirty dollars a lei' said lei shopped Angela Butler.

"I was expecting maybe $10, but I ended up paying more, like one lei for $15, $20' said shopper Daro Nason.

"It affected tremendously, you know, all of us struggle. People is not used to buying $10 leis that is actually $5 dollars so being so we have to try and explain to our customers that you know, everyone's having a hard time getting flowers and this is the reasons why"

But as many are absorbing the increase, others are growing their own ideas.

"After seeing all the leis and everything and buying a few of them, we're considering going to Costco and getting some candy leis over there" said Butler.

Lei shop owners say once tensions ease in Thailand and supplies are replenished, prices are expected to dip slightly. They also say local flowers are generally cheaper and more readily available.

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