Triple the average number of roses will be imported this month from the likes of Kenya and Colombia as the UK gets romantic

 
Rebecca Smith
New Covent Garden Flower Market Gears Up For Valentines Day
Just 12 per cent of flowers sold in the UK are home grown according to the National Farmers' Union (Source: Getty)

Romance isn't dead, at least according to new cargo statistics from Heathrow Airport.


Around 8m stems of fresh cut roses are due to be imported this month; about 570 tonnes and triple what is seen for an average month.

The Valentine's Day staple is due to be flown in in bulk and Heathrow notes most flowers purchased for the day are likely to be from abroad. In fact, 88 per cent of fresh cut flowers snapped up in the UK actually originate from countries along the equator where they can flower all year round.

Read more: Government to unveil Heathrow third runway national policy statement

In 2015, Kenyan roses accounted for 60 per cent of rose imports, and the rest of the bunch came from Colombia, India, Tanzania and Ecuador. Heathrow expects a similar spread for 2016, though the figures are still being tallied up.


The top three importers to the UK when it comes to flowers in general are the Netherlands, Kenya and Colombia, according to the National Farmers' Union.

As flowers are delicate, rose distributors rely on the speedy transport of air freight. The vast majority - 93 per cent - of fresh cut roses imported into the UK market travel via planes, with more than a third of those going through Heathrow.

Nick Platts, Heathrow's head of cargo, said: "While Heathrow’s cargo team may be best known for their daily handling of smoked salmon and engine materials, Valentine’s Day brings out the crew’s sensitive side as the warehouses are infused with the scent of red roses. Passengers flying through Heathrow in February may be surprised at the amount of fresh flowers that are under their very seats courtesy of the airport’s direct connections to places like Kenya, Colombia, and India.”

But, be warned, while romantics are expected to splash out on £69m on flowers this Valentine's Day, adverse foreign exchange rates have driven up the cost of flowers from European growers. Many of the UK's flower markets, such as Covent Garden, import the majority of theirs from Holland, meaning there will be particularly high import costs.

Research by corporate forex broker Foenix Partners found that imports of roses will, in sterling terms, be around 11 per cent more expensive than they were last year.

Read more: When dinner for two won’t do: Five alternative Valentine's dates in London