It may come as a surprise this Valentine’s Day to learn that many of the striking red roses sold in Australia were not actually grown here.
A Boeing 777 cargo plane touched down in Sydney a day before the annual lovers’ day, filled with 1.6 million of the blooms that were grown in Kenya.
According to supply chain company Panalpina, which imported the flowers, “Kenya is one of the world’s largest exporters of cut flowers, which represent the country’s second-largest export commodity after tea”.
The company also said that “Australia is one of the biggest Asia Pacific importers of the East African nation’s famed roses”.
According to Flowers Magazine, a local trade publication, around 10 per cent of all flowers sold in Australia are imported, citing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
It said that while most cut flowers are Australia grown, and tend to be sold within 100km of the farm of origin, imports are necessary to meet demand for a number of reasons, including:
- To meet the huge spike in demand at peak periods, including Valentine’s Day.
- That some of the most popular flowers can be grown and imported cheaper than they can be grown locally. These include roses as well as carnations and chrysanthemums.
- Several types of flowers for which the Australian climate is unsuitable for growing.
- Other flower species may be too niche for Australian growers.
In 2019, the drought that continues to grip much of eastern Australia may also be a contributing factor.
The ABS was contacted to confirm the figures, but a spokesperson said the quoted figures form part of paid consultancy analysis, and as such are not freely available.
If you are in the floristry business, PayPal has some interesting findings on Australian customer demographics and Valentine's Day intentions.
According to the online payments platform, businesses should be targeting younger customers, with almost half (45 per cent) of Gen Z planning to splash out on flowers this year. That compares with a third of Millennials (34 per cent), and just 16 per cent of Baby Boomers say they will be showering their loved one with blooms.
PayPal also found the traditional last-minute rush is unlikely to break any time soon, with 65 per cent stating they will buy on the big day rather than pre-order.
The findings were the result of an online survey of around 1,000 Australian adults, conducted between 7 and 11 February, 2019.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.