Prices of Mutant Orchids Plummet in Vietnam

Over the past year, the prices of rare mutant orchids have plummeted from billions of Vietnamese dong to hundreds of thousands of dong, with many mutant orchid varieties now priced lower than industrial orchids.

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The significant decrease in price has rendered highly-desirable orchid varieties in the country, such as Co Do (Red Flag), Bao Duy, and Doi Mat Pleyku (Pleiku Eyes), essentially without value.

The current market value of Even Phu Tho and Hien Oanh orchids, both nationally recognized varieties, is now priced at only a few thousand Vietnamese dong each.

Vo Thanh Rin is a seasoned orchid seller who operates his stand daily at the busy Cau Trang intersection in Binh Hung Hoa A Ward, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City. However, he has recently faced challenges due to the declining prices in the market.

“Due to circumstances, I am reluctantly offering my collection of extraordinary orchids for sale. This includes the exquisite Phu Tho and Hien Oanh varieties, which exhibit a unique five-petal white blossom. These extraordinary specimens can be acquired for an affordable price of just a few hundred thousand dong. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in adding these remarkable mutant orchids to your collection.”

A Bitter Reality

The recent burst of Vietnam’s orchid bubble has resulted in a considerable amount of debt for sellers throughout the country.

In mid-2020, a prominent orchid seller named D. from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak invested VND50 million (equivalent to US$2,109). This substantial investment included the purchase of two five-petal white Phu Tho kies, one five-petal white Hien Oanh kie, and one Hong Yen Thuy variant.

In late 2020, he successfully sold all four plants for a total sum of VND300 million ($12,644).

In hopes of capitalizing on his prior achievement, he decided to leverage his house and secure a mortgage of more than VND5 billion ($210,747). The funds acquired were subsequently directed towards investments in mutant orchids.

With the current decline in prices and the accumulation of mortgage payments, D. is now facing the risk of defaulting.

“The maturity date is approaching, and I am uncertain about how I will be able to repay my debts,” he expressed.

B, an orchid grower based in Hanoi, is currently encountering similar challenges.

B’s debts currently exceed VND20 billion ($843,410), while the value of his garden has significantly depreciated.

“This is a challenging period for me. Towards the end of the previous year, I managed to sell my orchids even though prices were decreasing. However, presently, their value has significantly diminished,” expressed B.

“I am currently struggling to make ends meet and find it challenging to make even the minimum interest payments on my loans, let alone make any progress towards paying off the principal.”

V., an orchid gardener in central Quang Ngai Province, made efforts to minimize the impact of the decrease in prices by engaging in bottom-fishing. However, this strategy proved unsuccessful and instead furthered his financial burden.

“I purchased a mutation orchid called five-petal Bach Tuyet (Snow White) for a price of VND1.2 billion ($50,604) per kie. However, the price dramatically dropped to VND500 million ($21,075), and eventually plummeted further to VND5 million ($211). V. shared this information.”

“I am currently offering it for sale at a price of VND1 million [$42] per unit, yet I have been unsuccessful in finding a buyer.”

Mutant orchids are up for sale in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.R. / Tuoi Tre

Mutant orchids are up for sale in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.R. / Tuoi Tre

As a result of their losses, certain orchid enthusiasts have turned to Facebook auctions in an effort to recover their investments. Meanwhile, others have chosen to abandon the industry entirely.

Duy Pham, the proprietor of a flourishing orchid garden in Quang Ngai City, has recently made the decision to pursue opportunities in a different field, leading to the closure of his beloved orchid business.

Duy Pham shared that he continues to nurture and maintain the orchids as a personal hobby. However, due to the existing market prices, the expenses incurred in caring for them far exceed their selling values.

Mutant orchids are commonly sold using a ‘kie,’ which is a bud that emerges from a knot in the stem of the plant. Previously, these orchids were measured and sold based on their height.

Some well-known gemstones, such as Hong A Hau, Hong Minh Chau, and five-petal Bach Tuyet, were previously valued at prices reaching hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong per centimeter.

The current price for a kie is approximately VND1 million.

The previously high-priced items, Co Do, Bao Duy, and Doi Mat Pleyku, which were once valued at billions of Vietnamese dong, are now available for purchase at significantly lower prices, in the range of a few tens of millions of Vietnamese dong.

Phu Tho and Hien Oanh, two other popular orchid varieties, are currently available at a very affordable price of just a few thousand Vietnamese dong per centimeter.

Price Manipulation

Despite early warning signs, such as a significant price drop in 2019, numerous orchid growers persevered in the industry. However, this decision has brought many of them to the brink of financial ruin.

In recent times, individuals involved in the trade of orchids have made consistent efforts to manipulate prices unnaturally.

Gardeners presented a compelling case to attract investors, asserting that the availability of mutant orchids was limited.

The actual supply exceeded all expectations, resulting in a significant surplus and significant price reductions.

Please be cautious

After experiencing a decline in popularity, mutant orchids are no longer the preferred choice for growers. As a result, their attention has shifted towards new plant varieties. Indian taro, in particular, experienced a brief period of high demand which was quickly followed by a significant decrease in price, mirroring the decline of mutant orchids.

There appears to be a perpetuating cycle of investment in the agricultural and ornamental plant industry, leading to inflation.

In the midst of the current orchid price bubble, both news agencies and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have consistently issued warnings, which unfortunately have been disregarded.

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