Valentine’s Day is approaching! Millions of roses will be bought and given to loved ones. Each year, the amount of those beautiful blossoms increases. But where do they come from? Definately not from your very own garden at this time of year.
The journey of the roses starts in warmer areas where also the largest plant-growing areas are found. Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Columbia are the world’s largest exporteurs of roses. The sensitive flowers are picked manually by hand. Only this way it can be guaranteed that the roses are picked at the right time. And it is a lot over 100 women harvesting the flowers, approximately a whole of 50,000 women and that is only from the plantation around Naivasha, Kenya’s capital of roses. Farm after farm stands around Lake Naivasha. On an average day around half a million roses leave the farms each day. During peaks as Valentine’s or Mothers Day the number is even much higher.
After harvesting the flowers by hand, it is necessary to put them right into the water and cool them down to 5° C to make sure the blossom will not bloom yet and that bacteria will be killed. Immediately after. the roses are transported to the airport of Nairobi and loaded into cargo planes heading for Europe. 4 times a week Lufthansa Cargo is flying to Frankfurt loaded with roses. There, they will be distributed within Europe. Within a blink of an eye the roses travel 8,000 km. Loaded in a refrigerated trailer, roses are shipped to wholesalers, retailers and markets. Usually, the roses reach the stores from the flower plantation within two days.
If the cooling-chain is interupted one for only a short time it is not guaranteed that roses will last at least for a week. To assure that the blossoms are not blooming too soon and that bacteria does not ruin them, the warehouse temperature is held at a 3-5 C degrees. Each farmer keeps a test bouquet of his rose harvest for quality assurance. If the bouquet lasts longer than the one sold in the store, it is often a sign that the cooling chain was interrupted. Only 10 minutes of bright sun can minimise the lasting of the roses.
2008, Lufthansa transported 250 tons of roses to Europe. Three years later, that number has been tripled. 90 tons of roses can be transported in one air freighter. This loading volume is quite low in comparison to perishable goods as frut or vegetables. To avoid that the alternative of cultivating roses in hothouses in Europe ruins the business in Kenya, different sustainability projects has been completed supported by WWF. These projects ensure that the cultivation of roses in Kenya and the transport to Europe remain competitively cheaper and offer a higher degree of eco-friendliness.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Source: Dvz.de, zeit.de, statista.com