Got your chocolates or bunch of flowers yet? You’re helping a great Australian export success story.
St Valentine’s Day is here again. A day for romance, a day for lovers, a day for husbands and boyfriends rushing to flower shops at the last minute before getting home.
And with all great traditions of course, there is a commercial side to it. No doubt, stockers of lingerie and chocolatiers will be in for a big day as well as the almighty florist.
While it is a big day domestically, Australia will be doing well export-wise as well. If we take the big three – flowers, lingerie and chocolates – we can see some interesting trends.
In terms of cut flowers (for bouquets and floral decorations) Australia exported over $12 million last year. Our major markets are Japan, the US, The Netherlands (surely not tulips!), Germany and Canada. Australia’s unique flora (as well as our fauna) is an important part of the Australian brand.
In terms of lingerie, Australia is having something of an underwear export revolution, thanks to the great female lingerie brands and some men’s ones as well. The exports of women’s lingerie have doubled over the past five years (and the women’s category still beats the pants off the men’s category in terms of volumes).
Total exports of women’s lingerie were worth around $12.5 million in 2007 with major destinations spreading from New Zealand, Britain, Singapore, US, to Germany and even France (oh la la!) getting in the top 10.
While we all know about the celebrity brands such as Kylie Minogue’s Love Kylie and Elle MacPherson’s Intimates, there are a number of other female entrepreneurs stripping down the competition in the lingerie game. Successful lingerie brands such as Pleasure State, Bulb, and Lusty Threads are all run by women such as Kay Cohen (from Pleasure State) and Julie Lantry (from Bulb).
Finally, chocoholics will be pleased to know that Australia exported a staggering $189.5 million in chocolate last year. We all know Haig’s and Darrell Lea, and the many other specialty chocolate exporters that are doing their bit and succeeding at it.
Australia’s top export destinations for the good stuff are New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and The Philippines, with Middle East destinations such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
So enjoy the sweet success of all our exporters and have a happy Valentine’s Day!
* Tim Harcourt is chief economist at Austrade and author of Beyond Our Shores
www.austrade.gov.au/economistscorner. Thanks to Nikki Mavrokefalos and Purnima Ganapathy for their assistance with this article.