Cheap imported roses simply not playing the game

Posted On 19 Feb 2014
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indiaZversusZNewZZealandNEW ZEALAND: As spokes person for the NZ Flower Growers Association, David Blewden has fronted some media activity calling into question the practice of flooding the market in New Zealand with cheap imported roses, primarily from India, but also from Colombia, for key periods of demand such as Valentines Day.

The New Zealand Herald picked up on the failure of the imported roses to deliver on any respectable vase life in an impromptu test performed by Herald journalist Lynley Bilby who found her New Zealand Rose in good heart whilst the Indian equivalent collapsed faster than the Indian batsmen and lasting not much longer than a One Day test!

In addition, Radio New Zealand picked up on the topic in an interview with David Blewden on the plight and unfairness of the situation for New Zealand growers, the Radio transcript follows for those who missed hearing it.

The Flower Growers Association estimated that at least half of the 600,000 roses which were 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.

Romance may have wilted with the roses after Valentine’s Day this year, as imported red roses were already dying when passing through lovers’ hands this week.

About half of the estimated 600,000 roses sold in New Zealand on February 13 and 14 were imported from India. Customs rules require them to dipped in harsh chemicals to kill bugs before leaving India. The flowers can be bought here one day and be dead the next.

New Zealand Flower Growers’ Association chairman David Blewden said the imported blooms were harming the local industry as customers could mistakenly think they were buying local flowers.

The Herald on Sunday bought six red Indian roses from The Warehouse for $9.99 on Thursday, the day before Valentine’s Day, and a New Zealand-grown rose from Roma Blooms in Auckland for $5 the same day. One of the imports and the New Zealand rose were placed in fresh water and left side by side.

At the end of day one the imported rose was starting to wilt, while the New Zealand-grown stem appeared unchanged. Valentine’s Day came and the imported bloom hung its head while the local flower stood upright. By yesterday, the imported rose was dead. Blewden was shocked the imported bloom died so soon.

A Warehouse spokeswoman defended the Indian roses, saying New Zealand growers could not meet customer demand.

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