NZ rose producers argue for country of origin labelling on flowers - 'it's an ethical issue'

One of New Zealand's biggest producers of roses says it's about time flowers had country of origin labelling on them, just like other fresh produce, as florists prepare for the Valentine’s Day rush.

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New Zealand florists say country of origin labelling would help promote ethical buying decisions. Source: Seven Sharp

Shipherd Nurseries have been in love with flowers since 1986, and thousands of their roses are right now on their way to lovebirds around New Zealand.

But they reckon Kiwis deserve to know exactly where that symbol of love bloomed.

"When a person goes to buy flowers [they] can't decide between either imported or local because there's no way to differentiate, no labelling, no signage,” Suzette van Dorsser told Seven Sharp.

For the van Dorssers, it's an ethical issue is much as it is about quality.

“For me it's an ethical issue. When I buy something I need to know people were paid fairly, the environment was looked after,” Mrs van Dorsser said.

Late last year, it became mandatory to have country of origin labelling on much of our food. They reckon flowers should be no different.

“It's a fresh product and competing against imported product, so I see it exactly the same,” Mr van Dorsser said.

Many imported flowers come from South America and India, they're often cheaper but generally don't last nearly as long, having already notched up plenty of air miles.

“I think the consumer doesn't know at all they're buying imported product a lot of the time,” Mr van Dorsser said.

The van Dorssers say they've gone to the Government with their concerns but that romance has gone cold.

“This industry has been cut loose and drifts on the periphery of the law,” Ms van Dorsser said

And speaking of country of origin, Suzette is from South Africa while Frans is Dutch, though they say they’re both Kiwis now.

With so many flowers, their own Valentine's Day must be blooming amazing.

“We have friends who grow onions and potatoes and we swap for roses, so I get onions and potatoes for Valentines Day,” Mrs van Dorsser said.