I first encountered Catherine Ziegler’s work when I was doing research for Flower Confidential. She was doing some interesting research about commodity chains, consumer preferences, and communication within the global flower trade. Now that research is available in book form: Favored Flowers: Culture and Economy in a Global System has just been published by Duke University Press. (You can ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you, or order online here.)
I had a chance to read the manuscript before it went to press, and I found it fascinating–she dug up some interesting history, particular around the New York area, and she brought a very scholarly and thoughtful perspective to the ways in which this complicated industry fits together. It is an academic work, filled with theory and statistical analysis, but if you’re in the flower industry, it belongs on your bookshelf.
Ziegler offers some interesting insights about the different ways this industry functions around the world and where it might go next. She points out where and how people in this business share information to their advantage, and where an aura of secrecy — about pricing, availability, customer preferences — either provides a competitive advantage or holds the whole industry back. Anyone who has worked in the floral industry on any level will be fascinated by her perspective. (Oh, and you’ll see plenty of familiar names, too.)