I know, I know!... You have heard the arguments before…. ‘Florist flowers last longer’, ‘Florist flowers are better cared for’, ‘Florists offer flexibility, custom arrangements and gift wrapping options’ AND ‘Supermarket flowers are easy – pre-packed, ready to go, convenient and above all cheap!!!’
We are frequently asked why our flowers cost much more than the ones found in the supermarket. A rose is a rose, a flower is a flower, right?? Well no actually!
There is a general misconception across consumers that we sell the same flowers as the supermarkets. A myth that supermarkets are able to charge a fraction of the florists price due to their ability to buy in bulk. Which naturally leads to the argument that why should you pay more, to support small businesses?
The supermarkets do buy in bulk, yes. And that will be reflected slightly in the price. However, this is not the reason for the sometimes huge gap in cost. The surprising truth is that we do not sell the same flowers as the supermarkets, not even close!
The BBC’s documentary ‘The World’s Biggest Flower Market’ is a great reference for this debate. It explores the Kenyan Rose’s journey from field to shop. Depending on whether the roses are being sent to florist or supermarket, determines the supplier, the field they grow & the journey the rose will take. Their destination will determine how the flowers are grown, cut, cared for and delivered.
The programme shows the journey of the Tambuzi Rose. The producers of the finest garden scented roses that money can buy. They are grown within a 25 hectare farm, each flower carefully selected on merit for scent, quality & appearance. The flowers are already opening when they are cut and are then slowly cooled over a 24 hour period to the perfect storing temperature of just above freezing. Next they are carefully packed 4 roses at a time & wrapped with cardboard and sponge to prevent any damage or bruising. Each layer is then covered with a special sheet containing hydrogen chloride, which protects the stems from Botrytis, a harmful fungus. Each stem sits within a bubble of water to ensure the flower is kept fed during its 4000 mile journey to Holland. Upon arriving in Holland only a few hours later, the roses are then sold at auction to the flying Dutchmen that deliver to florists, flower shops and small businesses across the UK.
The flowers that the supermarkets buy at a quarter of the price, experience a rather different journey. Grown on another farm, by different suppliers, these roses are not scented and are cut before they start to open – to force longevity. These roses are cooled much faster over 12 hours, rather than 24, to minimise costs. The supermarket flowers are unable to travel with water as this will heavily affect the weight of the cargo and again impact on the costs. The flowers are given a last minute drink before being densely packed in large boxes and set on their 4000 mile journey. Upon arriving in Holland, the flowers are inspected and the damaged flowers discarded. The ‘undamaged’ flowers then have their ends cut, as they have begun to die due to lack of water. They are then given a much needed drink before being wrapped and sold to the supermarkets in bulk.
The Tambuzi Rose, with its very large blooming flower head, an abundance of petals, long, thick stem and gorgeous scent is bought by florists for approximately £1 - £2 per stem. The supermarket roses, non-scented, with small flower head and short stem are bought for approximately 40p – 50p per stem. These prices are not determined by who is buying them.. instead they are priced according to the quality, grade and longevity of the flower.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that supermarket flowers are bad or that you shouldn’t buy them. They serve their purpose as a quick, convenient and cheap purchase. However, it would be lovely if that when customers decide to spend extra on the luxury of beautiful flowers, purchased from a florist, they do so knowing that they are paying for the superior quality of the flower and not just ‘supporting small businesses’. We will always do a happy dance at the end of each day knowing that you have supported us.. but we hope that you’ll do the same knowing that you have flowers worth 4 times more than the supermarket alternative. Luxury flowers that cost a few quid more but smell beautiful, look stunning & last so much longer in your homes.