Every year leading up to Valentine’s Day the consumer witnesses the retail price of roses start to rise, sometimes double, triple, or even quadruple what they normally sell for. Then to add insult to injury, just days after the event prices drop to pre-Valentine’s Day levels.
After the initial shock the first question asked is “Why”
The simple answer is “supply and demand” at all levels of the flower industry.
Flower farms suffer through severe peaks and valleys when it comes to day to day demand for their product, no where is this more apparent than with roses at Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately unlike a lot of industries where production may be reduced substantially during a slow down and increased again to meet higher than normal demand, roses are a product of nature with no On/Off switch.
Growing roses commercially represents a major investment beginning with the initial planting and continuing with the ongoing day to day care. In some cases a grower may wait for 2 years from the time he initially plants a rose bush until the time he can sell its first rose. Even once a rose plant begins to produce commercially a grower experiences periods throughout the year where there is little demand for their product resulting in them having to sell it for less then their cost of production or actually dumping the product. Unfortunately during these times the grower can not “shut down” or close for vacation as the plants still require day to day care by trained employee’s.
- After the Christmas season’s huge demand for red roses is filled, growers need 50-70 days for the plants to recover in order to produce enough red roses for Valentine’s Day. Just barely enough time!
- Valentine’s Day inspires the heaviest demand for long-stemmed roses and several rosebuds must be sacrificed initially for every single long-stemmed rose that is eventually produced. However this means that the grower is also sacrificing potential revenue on those buds in order to have product for Valentine’s Day. This is done through a process called “pinching”, which is in effect exactly what it sounds like.
- Winter’s shorter daylight hours and higher energy costs hamper efforts to grow large rose crops, throw in a few “cloudy” days and having production ready for Valentine’s Day is really in jeopardy.
Even if all goes well at the farm level and the rose crop is ready at just the right time another issues arises. Due to the greatly increased demand for limited cargo space on aircraft to get the roses to market, freight costs go up. Again this may sound like someone “taking advantage” of a situation however it is not. Airlines set their freight rates for cargo based on the potential revenue generated by both “legs” of the flight (coming and going). During normal times this is not an issue as a plane leaving Bogota, Colombia with a load of flowers going to Miami, USA (the flower gateway to North America) will return with a load of something else. Unfortunately at Valentines there is far more demand for flowers leaving Bogota than there is for products coming back. This results in airlines having to send planes back empty, meaning that the entire cost (fuel, equipment, crew, etc) for the return flight has to be factored into the original freight costs of the initial flight.
All of this means that by the time the roses reach the florist they are costing substantially more. Unfortunately as much as the florist would like to avoid raising their price to cover the increased cost of the roses they have little choice. In reality the percentage margin a retail florist makes on a dozen roses at Valentines Day is typically much lower than say a day in July. However, because of very short term increased demand they see a huge rise in labour and delivery costs.
Now, some good news. At Grower Direct we are not immune to the increased costs but we have worked hard to develop a system to minimize them. Through our year round commitments to growers and utilizing our own facility in Miami combined with our own transportation system we can keep increases in Valentine’s Day rose prices to a minimum.