Valentine’s Day supply chain issues, heat waves a thorn in the side of florists
Valentine’s Day is one of the most important days in a florist’s calendar, but with rising transportation costs and supply chain issues, florists say this year isn’t rosy.
- Valentine’s Day typically sees sales increase sixfold for florists
- Border closures, flooding and heatwaves have all affected WA’s cut flower supply
- Customers are encouraged to be patient and consider alternatives to roses on February 14
Supply issues prompted Perth florist Rebecca Grace to skip Valentine’s Day at all this year.
“Mondays have always been the trickiest days for Valentine’s Day and with the current COVID situation, roses and many other flowers cost almost double,” she wrote in a social media post. .
“On top of that, most of these flowers are delivered early in the week before Valentine’s Day due to a lack of flights.”
Roses in Shortage
People who want the traditional roses for their loved one tomorrow can expect to pay a premium.
Perth flower wholesaler Janki Shah said that as most roses were imported from countries such as Kenya and Ecuador on passenger flights, retail prices had jumped 40% from pre- COVID.
“Before COVID-19, freight prices went up 300 to 400 percent, depending on where they’re coming from,” Ms Shah said.
“We’ve certainly tried to make sure our fridge is really stocked with local and imported produce, but I’m really, really excited to see what the florists are coming up with this year.”
Floods and heat wilt local flowers
She said buying flowers grown in Australia was also more difficult, due to recent heat waves, strict WA border controls and flooding in South Australia affecting rail freight.
“Normally we could have looked at air freight options but as our borders are closed in WA the air freight options are so limited and so expensive – it is not viable for us to use this as an option not more,” she said.
Fremantle florist Helen Pow Davies said competition for local flowers had “exploded”.
“We are a carbon neutral company and we don’t use any imported flowers,” she said.
“We get our roses from Victoria…and we’re also affected by shipments from Melbourne due to the rail situation.
She said the hot weather in Victoria had also affected the supply.
“A lot of their Valentine’s Day flowers have flushed out early due to the long stretch of hot days, so what they have at the moment is very limited.”
Customers should be aware of price increases
Flower Industry Australia chief executive Anna Jabour said some florists were paying as much as $120 wholesale for a dozen stems and customers should watch out for price increases.
“It’s really important to be nice at the counter and support your local florist and growers,” she said.
Ms Pow Davies said many customers did not understand the work involved in creating bouquets.
“Valentine’s Day is a day when people who don’t normally buy flowers usually buy flowers, so the expectation is heightened enough already,” she said.
“We really try to be affordable and our prices include delivery, but there’s a lot to do.”
“And we would make maybe six times what our normal amount would be for those days.”
Why are roses imported from overseas?
Ms Shah said most of the roses sold in Australia come from Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia and Ethiopia due to favorable weather conditions.
“[They have] an equatorial climate where you have a similar temperature all year round and it’s also a high altitude,” she said.
“They produce very good quality roses and different varieties.
She said there was only a “handful” of WA producers.
Ms Jabour said while demand for local roses had increased due to the pandemic, flowers from overseas still dominated sales.
“Imported flowers have taken over the industry for the past two decades, unbeknownst to the Australian public,” she said.
“We have called on the government to mandate country of origin labeling for flowers so consumers and florists know they are buying from and supporting Australian growers.”