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China's flower auction in overdrive ahead of holiday


02-13-2017 13:57 BJT

As Valentine’s Day draws near, romantics across China are setting out to buy flowers for their sweethearts. With skyrocketing demand for bunches and bouquets of all shapes and sizes, China’s flower auctions are doing a roaring trade. To find out more, CCTV reporter Tao Yuan visited one auction house in China’s flower capital, in Yunnan province. 

“We are now at Asia’s largest flower auction and trade center. This place is quite incredible. It’s huge, and filled with flowers, rows and rows of freshly harvested roses, daisies and lilies. The smell is just wonderful,” Tao Yuan said.

In this flower warehouse, Mu Qiyi is making his final selections for Valentine’s Day. Each rose here is carefully inspected.

“This one is good. The petals look fresh. Unlike this one, which is quite discolored,” said Mu Qiyi, flower trader.

But this isn't your average pick and pay mission.

Around six million flowers are sold by this company alone every day in the run up to Valentine's Day.

The high demand means flower traders need to bid for the products they want.

“This is where the real action takes place. This auction center uses the Dutch system, so the price starts quite high, and it drops, until someone is willing to pay," Tao Yuan said.

"Stepping inside, you can feel the tension in the air. It feels quite like a college classroom, everyone is highly focused. Flower auction 101.”

The trick, as Mu and his neighbor Yu Zhengxian explain, is to wait for the price drop, but press the purchase button quickly enough to beat out everyone else.
Timing is everything.

“Hundreds of people are bidding. Everyone wants to buy flowers at the same time. We’ve got only two or three seconds to react, and sometimes not even that much time. As soon as the auctioneers set a starting price, we press the purchase button. One second," Yu said.

The pressure is also on auctioneers like Wang Rui.

“Sometimes the supply and demand don’t match. There might be a shortage of supply, and a high demand. All of a sudden, prices can skyrocket. At times like this, I need to react quickly, to make sure the selling price reflects the value of each flower,” she said.

Tension in the air and excitement too.

And with each press of a button, a wish for a happy Valentine's Day.

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