14 Feb 2014

Valentine irony for flower-growers

2:18 pm on 14 February 2014

As florists enjoy a busy Valentine's Day, flower-growers are complaining that business is not rosy at all.

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Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Flower Growers Association estimates that at least half of the 600,000 roses expected to be sold on Friday are cheap imports from India and Colombia.

Association chairman David Blewden said the imports not only push down prices for locally grown flowers, but also have to be treated with chemicals. And he said any flowers which miss out on treatment could pose a biosecurity risk as they could bring in pests and disease.

He said the risk of imported flowers to the country's flower-growing industry were huge, with those from India, other Asian countries and Columbia having risen dramatically in the past eight months.

He said it's particularly hard for local rose growers at this time of year who have to compete with cheaper flowers brought into the country for Valentine's Day.

Mr Blewden said India was the biggest bug-bear, with growers there getting a range of government support, include air freight subsidies for exports.

He said New Zealand growers would like to challenge that, and if there was sufficient evidence after investigation the association would make a claim to the Government either on the basis of a dumping case or an unfair international competition case under World Trade Organisation rulings.

In the meantime, he said the association is telling New Zealand consumers that fresh is best and encouraging them to ask the retailer about the origin of the flowers.