Taipei MRT stations transform into flower shops to aid wounded industry

Plan aimed at boosting domestic flower sales while helping commuters relax

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Floral hallway at Taipei MRT station (Facebook, @TaipeiFlowerAuction photo)

Floral hallway at Taipei MRT station (Facebook, @TaipeiFlowerAuction photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Metro stations are doubling as flower shops to aid the floriculture industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent flower exports plunging.

Songjiang Nanjing station has been putting on floral exhibits and selling flowers since June in collaboration with Taipei Flower Auction Co. and the Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA). The effort is built on the success of a similar and well-received project last year that benefited both floral businesses and the city’s public transport operator.

The approach is aimed to cultivate a taste for flowers among the public and has provided some relief to the island country’s flower growers, whose livelihoods have taken a hit amid a drop in flower exports.

Almost a third of Taiwan’s NT$18.3 billion (US$623 million) worth of floral products were exported last year, with 61 percent being shipped to Japan and the U.S. Affected by COVID-19 woes, Taiwan has seen its global flower market shrink by 20 percent, according to AFA director-general Hu Jong-I (胡忠一).

Taiwanese spend less than an average of NT$1,000 (US$34) a year on flowers, about one-third of the expenditure of their Western counterparts. The petite shops set up in MRT stations, which have a ridership of two million a day, could help generate flower sales while creating a soothing space for commuters in times of chaos, the AFA noted.

The floral initiative is expected to be expanded to more stations across the six MRT lines, said the AFA.