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9 February 2022

Red rose shortage means Valentine's Day will be expensive this year

Roses are red, violets are blue, no more red roses! What do we do?

Die-hard romantics may need to sit down for this one… yes, there’s a red rose shortage this Valentine’s Day. And, even if you do manage to get your hands on a bouquet, they will be a lot more expensive than in previous years.

Poor weather conditions in major growing areas and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 have affected the supply chain as many overseas growers struggle to meet demands at this busy time of year.

New Zealand flower growers are still going strong, but there is always a limited supply of red roses, which florists usually make up for by importing flowers.

United Flower Growers is New Zealand’s largest flower market and supplies flowers to florists around the country. Thai-Anh Cooper from UFG said event weeks such as Valentine’s put a lot of pressure on growers to ensure there are enough blooms. “The ongoing wider market impacts of Covid has intensified that pressure where domestic demand has thankfully continued to remain firm but any natural shortfall in domestic supply has been unable to be filled by other means.”

Red roses will be a lot more expensive than in previous years.
Red roses will be a lot more expensive than in previous years.

Brook Thomson, owner of Brooklyn Flowers in Ponsonby, Auckland, said the shortage is particularly bad this year.

“New Zealanders get really into Valentine’s Day, but we just can’t supply the same volume that we could last year. We’re offering other flowers to offset it as it’s just not worth the time and the expense for roses, we aren’t making any money on it.”

Mount Eden’s Roses Florist owner, Sandra Sleemen, said rose prices have been very high.

“Yesterday’s red rose prices were crazy. Three times what we would usually pay and it’s likely to increase further as we get closer to Valentine’s Day… There are always a few traditional customers and they will be disappointed”.

Florists relying on imported flowers have been told that overseas workers are isolating due to Omicron and there are also freight issues as space is at a premium.

“There are roses on their way but we have been told that there are hold ups and unfortunately, they will not make it by Valentine’s. It’s very sad for the rose growers and all concerned,” Sleeman said.

This also means that the price will be higher for what little stock there is.

Searching online, we found the price of a single-stemmed rose currently varies from $20, to one florist listing it for a whopping $85.99.

UFG set up the Feel Good with Flowers campaign, which urges people to support local florists this year by buying other flowers.

“It’s no secret that your local growers and florists have had a tough couple of years when it comes to trade. Valentine’s is a crucial month for NZ growers and retailers and by showing your love for someone you’re also showing love to our incredible growers, florists and floral economy here in Aotearoa.” Thai-Anh Cooper said.

If you’re keen to treat your loved ones (or yourself), while supporting local, take some tips from Sandra Sleeman, of Roses Florist, on how to approach buying flowers this year:

  • Mix it up and give your florist creative licence (it’s what we’re trained to do). 
  • Celebrate all those beautiful blooms that are in season and NZ grown. 
  • Order early to avoid disappointment (a.k.a. now).

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