Valentine's Day 'ruined' as flower shortage sends prices skyrocketing

Valentine’s Day could be ruined for many lovers this year with flower supplies likely to be in short supply.

There are even reports roses are being flown in and priced at wholesale for between $120 and $140 a dozen.

That's because imports make up around 40 per cent of Australia’s supply and contribute significantly to peak holidays, like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Hearts are set to be broken this Valentine's Day with flowers set to be in short supply. Source: Getty / AAP
Hearts are set to be broken this Valentine's Day with flowers set to be in short supply. Source: Getty / AAP

A perfect storm of freight disruptions means exported bouquets are not arriving in key markets including Australia and the United States.

The issue began with a near gridlock of international freight which began disrupting supplies in October.

Supply issues have faced further pressure with increasing passenger loads on planes resulting in freight being bumped to make way for luggage.

No quick fix to flower shortage importers believe

The peak-industry body for importers Australian Flower Traders Association (AFTA), say fifteen hundred tonnes of flowers a week are spoiling in Kenya, a major international flower exporter.

That’s because with growing demand for freight, affordable options are not available.

AFTA founding member Craig Musson said while is organisation is “working around the clock” to find a solution, he can’t see a “quick fix” to the issue.

“A shortage of flowers for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, both key events in the local florist calendar, is likely,” he said.

“There is little doubt that prices will increase and create difficulty for florists whose businesses rely on these calendar events dates to generate sufficient revenue to sustain them throughout the year.”

Valentine's Day flower shortage blamed on importers

While the local flower growers are unable to supply Australia on its own, they say that's because the rise of imports have put many farmers out of business.

Flower Industry Australia (FIA) told Yahoo News Australia their members were thriving until the early 2000s when there was a rise in imports.

Australian flower growers say they cannot compete with farms that offer lower wages in Kenya. Source: Reuters
Australian flower growers say they cannot compete with farms that offer lower wages in Kenya. Source: Reuters

They say roses, chrysanthemums, carnations and lisianthus flooded the market, stopping the local industry "in its tracks".

"No grower in the land can compete with the wages paid in third world countries," an FIA spokesperson said.

"Many wholesalers chose to support overseas farms instead of Australian farms."

They argue that had the local industry's trajectory of growth not been interrupted, there would be plenty of Australian grown flowers to supply the market.

Instead florists and consumers are "at the mercy" of the supply issues that are affecting the globe, they say.

Cut flowers remain one of the few products where country of origin labelling is not mandated.

A independent review into the issue, commissioned by the government, is expected imminently.

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