British growers miss Valentine's boost

Interflora removes Union Jack icons from marketing for its RHS-backed bouquet after British growers respond via Twitter.

Ultimate Love Bouquet: triggered response from growers on Twitter - image: Interflora
Ultimate Love Bouquet: triggered response from growers on Twitter - image: Interflora

The lack of British-grown cut flowers being sold for Valentine's Day came into sharp focus last week.

Interflora tagged half the 10 different varieties in its £195 RHS-backed "Ultimate Love Bouquet" as British-grown, drawing fire on Twitter from British growers who pointed out that many of the varieties are not available from the UK.

The flower deliverer gave red chrysanthemums, red tulips, white hyacinth, ivy and myrtle Union Jack icons in its marketing. But it later ditched the icons because it did know where florists would buy the blooms.

British-grown flower wholesaler Pratley Covent Garden Market had the only red tulips from this country.

Former Zwetsloots commercial director Guy Moreton, who now runs MorePeople, said ... "It's expensive to grow flowers in Britain. It's been scientifically proven it costs the same in carbon miles to grow (glasshouse cut flowers) in the UK as to import from somewhere where it doesn't cost any more to grow them."

He added that 20 years ago he and the late Derf Paton unsuccessfully campaigned to move Valentine's Day to July to help British growers who cannot compete with overseas growers.

But he said Interflora florists "probably buy more British cut flowers than anyone else", when in season.

English Flower Company owner Jayne Meadows and grower Gill Hodgson said there needs to be a shift from red roses on Valentine's Day to tulips, alstroemeria, narcissi and anemones to see a shift in buying trends.

An Interflora representative said: "We have got 1,800 independent florists and they all source their own stock. There is a certain percentage of the stems that can be sourced as British-grown but it is out of our control where each individual florist gets their stems from.

They added: "We cannot guarantee that every one of those florists is going to source British-grown stems.

An RHS spokesman said the society is "extremely committed to supporting British horticulture".

The bouquet had sold out by 12 February, according to Interflora's website. The company said it was only for sale until midnight on 10 February to allow florists time to source all 10 different flowers.

Home Grown logo and scheme aiming for wider recognition

Ian Riggs, chairman, British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA)

"The Union Jack is splashed around wildly, but the only logo that has a 'defined' laid-down definition of UK-grown is the BPOA Home Grown scheme. The recently formed BPOA Home Grown Users Group will be talking to current and prospective users of the BPOA Home Grown logo to widen awareness of the logo and scheme in 2014. The BPOA target is for Home Grown to become as recognised as the Red Tractor."

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