PORTLAND, Maine - The drooping value of the US dollar means Canadian Christmas tree growers are seeing less green this season.
Canadian Christmas tree growers have seen their US sales decline in recent years because of increasing costs and competition from US growers. But it's their own currency that's causing them the most grief these days.
Compared with the US greenback, the Canadian dollar is 15 percent higher in value than it was at the beginning of the year. Because growers are paid in US dollars, their revenues are dropping by the same amount.
Canadian exporters of products ranging from seafood, lumber, and auto parts to Canadian Club whiskey are all in the same boat. But Christmas trees are an especially visible example at this time of year.
The situation is blamed for driving Canada's largest Christmas tree grower, Nova Scotia's Kirk Forest Products, out of business.
"That put the dagger to the heart," said the company's founder, Rick Kirk, who is shipping about 250,000 trees, most of them to the United States, in his company's final holiday season. "We know that the market is going to be squeezed year after year."
More than half of Canada's Christmas trees are shipped to the United States, but the figure has dropped by about 20 percent, to about 2 million trees, since 2002.
During that period, the value of the Canadian dollar grew by about 50 percent.
The effect on US consumers is minimal because Canadian trees account for less than 10 percent of the total number of trees sold.
This season, the average purchase price for a live Christmas tree in the United States is expected to be similar to last year's average of $40.50, said Rick Dungey of the National Christmas Tree Association in Chesterfield, Mo.