'Tis the Season for a "Christmas Tree Crisis"
Image courtesy of fischerhuder
The twin specters of globalization and climate change may be conspiring to steal many a German's Christmas cheer this season. Hit by dwindling supplies and price rises of up to 30%, the German Christmas tree industry has been in a rut this year, the victim of a declining labor force and an unusually intense storm season.
Polish workers, who've traditionally filled the role of tree choppers, have increasingly been moving to other European countries in search of more lucrative work. As a result, the tree industry has had to disburse a larger share of its funds to pay German workers. In addition, strong storms earlier in the year are believed to have cut down tree stocks around the country. The lure of renewable energy convinced many farmers to switch from growing Christmas trees to planting corn, further fueling the price hikes and lowered supplies (strike another one for corn ethanol). The wonders of globalization have also meant that Germany has continued to increase the share of trees it allocates for its export market, sending them off to countries as far away as China. "Christmas trees in the desert, transported there in Lufthansa freezer containers, are by no means uncommon," said one industry type.
The pain is likely to last for the foreseeable future: Because Christmas trees can take as long as 10 years to fully grow, even having many more foresters switch back to planting trees now will do nothing to boost supplies, at least in the short term.
Via ::Financial Times: Price spiral hits Christmas trees (newspaper)