Flowers may be a symbol of love and consideration, but consumers worry those same traits aren’t reflected in the way they’re grown.
Currently, the U.S. sources 78% of cut flowers sold at retail from Colombia and Ecuador. Growers in these and other exporting countries have become incredibly efficient over the years, able to meet the demands of the $32 billion American flower market. However, according to watchdog groups and exposes like the 2007 book “Flower Confidential,” working conditions can be extremely poor. And, with the local movement in full force, some consumers might find it unsettling that a supermarket rose traveled halfway around the world.
Retailers have begun to address these concerns by applying fair trade practices to their floral sourcing. Whole Foods, Austin, Texas, offers its “Whole Trade Guarantee” label, which ensures customers that the flowers were grown under ethical working conditions and with minimal impact to the environment.
Whole Foods and other companies also source flowers locally. At Kowalski’s Markets, Woodbury, Minn., customers can find the retailer’s “Minnesota Grown” tags on many of the selections, from roses to mums.
“‘Minnesota Grown’ in a big deal for us and we make sure to signage that appropriately for customers,” said Floral Manager Gary Paone.
Tom Lavagetto, floral analyst and president of Floral Marketing Solutions, Spokane, Wash., noted that sourcing concerns are nothing new for the industry.
“Floral was one of the first industries to address these issues of fair trade and sustainability, and I think they’ll continue to expand these services into the future,” he said.
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