Imported flowers give consumers choice but increase competition for local growers:
Kiwi flower growers are coming under increasing pressure as cheap flower imports, mainly from India, flood the New Zealand market, says Flower Growers Association chairman, David Blewden.
Mr Blewden says around 50 percent of the roses sold each year for Valentine’s Day are now imported.
Not only is this affecting Kiwi growers’ livelihoods, it also poses biosecurity risks, he says.
Any imports pose biosecurity risks but MPI has strict protocols to deal with them.
“Imported flowers are usually treated with harsh chemicals like Round Up. This means they don’t last long once you’ve bought them and you have to be careful when handling them if you are sensitive to chemicals.
Any flowers treated with Round Up would be dead.
“But sometimes imported flowers slip through the cracks, don’t get treated properly and come into NZ carrying pests and diseases. We’ve had several instances of this and the risks to our industry, and to home gardeners, are huge.”
The discovery of a single Queensland fruit fly got major attention a couple of weeks ago. Any pests or diseases on imported flowers would be treated as seriously but I don’t recall any news of one.
He says New Zealanders buy approximately 600,000 rose stems for Valentine’s Day and by far the majority are romantic red.
But Kiwi growers account for only about 300,000 rose stems destined for Valentine’s Day. The balance – another 300,000 stems sold for February 14 – comes into the country from India.
“Import volumes are growing each year because stems are massed produced overseas very cheaply. This is putting our local industry under severe pressure.
“Unfortunately, consumers don’t know that most of the roses they buy are imports. Perhaps if they did they’d ask their florist for NZ-grown stems. They’d certainly last longer and be of better quality when you got them home.” . . .
People base their buying on several factors including cost and quality.
Flower prices soar on Valentine’s Day. Some people might prefer to pay a higher price for local blooms but I suspect many would sacrifice quality and longevity for a lower price.
Competition from overseas will make business more difficult for local growers but gives consumers more choice and lower prices.
That’s what free trade does and as many of the growers will be exporters they can’t argue for any special treatment here without endangering their sales elsewhere.
While on the subject of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my birthday.
On my 40th our accountant had stayed the night and presented me with a gift at breakfast. Minutes later my best friend’s mother arrived out from town with a present.
My farmer muttered that they were showing him up and disappeared into the office.
I learned later he phoned a friend who’s a florist and asked for 40 red roses. She pointed out it was Valentine’s day and they would be very pricey.
He said that didn’t matter. She told him what it would cost, he changed his mind and asked about carnations. They were a similar price so he told her he’d call in later and see what she could come up with.
She came up with a beautiful bunch of mixed blooms, the cost of which remains between them and their country of origin never crossed my mind.