We’ve all seen those supermarket buckets stuffed full of brightly coloured flowers in barcoded plastic packets. Usually at ridonculously low prices – half or less than what you would be charged a florist. It made us think – something has to give. Turns out it does. Several things in fact.

Just like the glossy punnet of strawberries you buy at your local large chain supermarket – the ones that grow fur jackets the morning after you buy them JUST when you’re about to cut them into your muesli – what you see is not what you get with supermarket flowers. And here’s why.

The major Australian supermarket groups (you know the ones we’re talking about) are amongst the largest retailers in the world. The ever-popular story of the small Australian growers/agri-suppliers versus the might of the mega supermarkets is as true in the local flower industry as in any other. It’s a true David and Goliath scenario. The huge buying power of the major supermarkets puts incredible downward pressure on the prices that local growers can earn, often forcing them to provide B grade stock to the supermarkets – something that is a common trend within the industry. Learn more about it here.

Unbeknownst to the casual flower buyer, much of the flower stock in your local supermarket is cheaply imported from overseas to fill huge supermarket demand, with flowers coming from producers as far flung as China, Ecuador and Kenya.  All this distance necessitates thousands of transport miles and high refrigeration needs as flowers are trucked from one facility to the next, all at a huge cost to the environment.

This also means that the flowers you are picking up at the supermarket or chain affiliated grocer may have been cut up to a week before you even laid eyes on them.

Beyond the soulless mechanics of supermarket supply chains, it’s clear that most supermarket staff are not trained or resourced to care for their flowers. Buying committees far removed from the end customer buy generic stock based on price, shelf life and mass appeal (think cheap imported orchids and the standard baby’s breath/imported rose combo!).

Worse, you often see packaged flowers on display in tubs outdoors, where they are subject to drying heat, wind, pollution and the occasional manhandling by passers by. (Side note: professional florists keep their stock in highly specialised fridges or cool rooms). Otherwise, they are stored near other fresh produce, like fruit, which emits ethylene gas as it ripens – think kryponite for flowers – seriously deteriorating flower life span and quality.

And here’s the part you should be worried about:

All this leads to shorter flower life, no soul and limited variety. 

Which is just sad all around when you think about it!

At BLOOMBOX CO, on the other hand, we deal directly with the growers, hand pack your blooms in our warehouse and get them to you sometimes within hours of the flowers being cut. We do, on occasion, include some imported flowers in our boxes to ensure you keep getting variety and the best of what is available. But we do our best to ensure your flowers come from regions with ethical practices and to support our local grower community. And doesn’t that seem like the better way to do things?

Viva la floral revolution!

2014-09-13T12:02:33+10:00

About the Author:

Philomena is the founder of Bloombox Co, occasional hatmaker and pickle aficionado. She lives in Melbourne where she works to get locally grown flowers into homes and businesses.