The United States, as one of the largest importers and consumers of cut flowers in the world, is a latecomer to the certification game. It’s worth noting that those countries that consume the most flowers on a per capita basis are also the ones with the most well-known certification programs. The Swiss outrank all other countries by a long shot, spending over one hundred dollars on flowers per capita annually, with Holland, Germany, and Great Britain all spending forty to sixty dollars per capita. The United States, by comparison, spends about twenty-six dollars per capita. Just 28 percent of U.S. households regularly buy flowers, compared with 76 percent of German households. It’s no surprise, then, that the United States has been slow to come around to the idea of certification. The demand for such a program just hasn’t been there.
But that changed when Gerald Prolman, founder of an online flower retailer called Organic Bouquet, entered the marketplace in 2001. The bouquets he sold on his Web site were designated “green label,” “organic,” or both, and in his search for a consistent certification standard that he could use to sell eco-friendly flowers to U.S. customers, he and some other flower growers and wholesalers approached SCS (Scientific Certification Systems) about developing a national certification standard. SCS already certifies forest products for the Forest Stewardship Council and seafood for the Maine Stewardship Council, and it provides organic and pesticide residue-free certification services for produce. It began working to develop VeriFlora, a green label for flowers sold in the United States.