Florida green industries generate a big economic impact

Florida green industries generate a big economic impact

Features - Regional news // Florida

New study shows the Sunshine State’s nursery, greenhouse, landscape, and garden center industry provides more than $30 billion in economic output.

April 1, 2022

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Florida’s green industry generates $31.4 billion in total output sales and provides more than 266,000 jobs statewide, according to a new economic impact study released by the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) and Farm Credit of Central Florida.

Overall, the sector’s total impact (including indirect contributions) grew by $10 billion, or 50%, since 2015 for an annual five-year growth rate above 9%. The growth in output has remained consistent, up 23% since the last economic impact study was conducted (by UF/IFAS) in 2018. Total output, as a measure, includes indirect and induced impacts from related aspects that keep the industry running, examples like the necessary logistics apparatuses, trucking, insurance carriers, chemical and equipment manufacturers, and real estate, employment, marketing, and legal and professional services.

Total “value added,” a similar approximation to GDP, was $16.4 billion in 2020 for the environmental horticulture industry as a whole, up 9% since 2018 and a whopping 1.5% of the state of Florida’s total value-added product. Further contributing to the economy, the industry was responsible for an estimated $609 million in local and state tax revenue in 2020.

The numbers

The largest segment of Florida’s environmental horticulture by direct impact is landscaping, employing more than 121,000 people with $11 billion in direct output between wages paid and value added. In second place by employment is greenhouse and nursery plant production with almost 24,000 employees and $2.3 billion in direct output. Combined, retail garden centers and wholesale supplies operations in the green industry employed nearly 20,000 workers, and were responsible for slightly more direct output: $2.5 billion. Overall, businesses in the environmental horticulture sector directly paid more than $6 billion in wages and benefits to Florida workers in 2020.

Florida’s nursery and landscape industry created nearly 34,000 new jobs between 2015 and 2022 — a 14.5% increase statewide. And the state’s nursery and landscape industry contributed more than $600 million in local and state tax revenue in 2020, according to the report.

More than 90% of Florida’s garden centers offer Florida-friendly and native plants, along with pollinator attractors, alternative cultivars to invasive species, and informative plant identification, according to FNGLA.

According to the USDA, Florida’s floriculture production in 2020 reached nearly $460 million in wholesale value alone.

Florida is the number one producer of indoor houseplants and tropical foliage in the country, producing 69% of total wholesale value for the United States. According to the report, foliage growers intend to spend an average of more than $275,000 on adding or improving buildings and structures, as well as $130,000 on vehicles and equipment.

During the next three years, 80% of landscape companies expect sales to increase, according to the report. To prepare for this growth, landscape businesses plan to invest an average $167,000 in the upcoming year on equipment.

At the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursery, landscape, and associated businesses experienced a surge of increased demand. As offices shut, work-from-home encouraged individuals to add greenery to indoor living spaces and begin or extend outside gardening, with sales fueled by plant collecting crazes and trends on social media. Simultaneously, the fast pace of development across the state is driving demand from landscape professionals and roadway authorities. Growth in the green industry during a global health crisis might have been unpredictable, but all things being equal the sector has been expanding since taking a major hit in 2009 following the global financial crisis.

Florida’s growth

The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research has forecast growth through 2040. Over the next five years (2021-26) the state’s population is expected to increase by nearly 1.5 million (to 23.42 million individuals), an average addition of 1.3% per year. This growth is more than double the rate forecast for the United States as a whole. These shifts have major implications for nursery, landscape, and allied industries. Growth means more homes and developments requiring landscaping and inputs.

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Florida produced more than $112 million worth of nursery goods that were shipped out of the country. The vast majority of this, nearly $78 million, was unspecified live plants. For the decade leading up to the pandemic, the Sunshine State’s export growth was increasing, on average, at 5.4% per year, though that dropped 2% in 2020. Canada, the Bahamas, the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands are the top export destinations for Florida nursery products.

Florida exported more than $90 million of live plants and foliage products in 2021.

Florida exported more than $2 million of trees and shrubs in 2021.

Florida nursery and greenhouse product exports increased by 32% from 2020 to 2021.

For the state of Florida, the top broad categories of exports are:

  • foliage
  • cuttings and slips
  • bulbs/tubers (in growth)
  • roses (cut, fresh)
  • trees, shrubs

The complete 44-page report can be viewed at www.fngla.org. Source: FNGLA