Valentine’s Day is done (all at TBS say “Yay, OK bye now, happy singles day every day!!”), but those roses you got…where did they come from? Natasha Mann susses it out…


The rose is a flower that holds a sweet-smelling reputation.

It symbolises love and beauty.

The Greeks and Romans often had their gods cavorting in rose gardens. England and North America have fused it into national pride. Various European countries use it to symbolise social democracy. And for a mere $240 you can get 24 roses delivered by Coles to your loved one for Valentine’s Day. Are these flowers being sent from the gardens of paradise for a supermarket to put that price tag on them?

Maybe. Maybe…

Two years ago there was a bit of a furore over the origins of pretty flowers in the supermarkets – allegedly…

Coles, Woolworths and florists are misleading consumers by selling ”freshly cut” flowers grown in Kenya, Vietnam and Ecuador.

At a time when some of us liked to know how monstrous our eco footprint was, or for those who liked to help out the local growers, this was an issue. Not knowing if the flowers were products of an unethical environment was an issue. Flowers don’t have the stricter labelling laws of food, so a supermarket stamping “freshly cut” on a bouquet technically wasn’t lying if they omitted the “last week and then flown/shipped over here” at the end.

The Australian Flower Industry says on their website that only about 10 percent of Australian cut flowers are imported. And over 50 percent of these imports are roses.

The AFI cite the Australian Bureau of Statistics for their figures. Looking it up, the last ABS flora study was done in 2008, which was a time when Australia had yet to feel the impact of the global financial crisis which came into fruition that year. The first things people cut down on in times of financial stress are the unessentials. Eg: flowers.

IBIS World states:

The Floriculture Production industry has struggled against adverse trading conditions over the past five years, facing stagnant demand for flowers by Australian consumers, rising import penetration, and dwindling export earnings.

And the earnings for the industry is only predicted to slide.

Pre-GFC, I used to be friends with a couple of florists who owned shops. They both said they needed Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to stop from going under. And that was before we all started watching our spending. Such florists run a shop account for half of the cut flower trade in Australia and also create nearly half the retail value, which was $728.2 million 2014-2015.

But I ask myself what’s a mogul supermarket’s excuse for charging over 200 bucks for a bunch of roses?


I emailed both Coles and Woolies asking where there roses were from as they both have an online page dedicated to Valentine deliveries.

They have yet to answer.


(Post script – Woolworths replied to the information request, saying they sourced their roses locally…)


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