Rose prices have rocketed due to shortage in supply. (Getty) Some flower prices have rocketed amid a shortage of imported flowers, the weak rand and seasonal squeeze on supplies.

But as local exporters struggled to get their product out, there is a glut of South African flowers like proteas.

The industry is facing a crisis, with weak demand due in part to a lack of weddings and functions during the national lockdown.

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Some flower prices have shot up, partly because of the disruption wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown.

The prices of roses and chrysanthemums have tripled while the prices of carnations and lilies have doubled, according to some industry players.

In March, local roses were selling at R4.50 a stem on the wholesale market. But rose prices had now shot up to between R8 and R12 a stem, price levels which were “unheard of”, says Ronnie Gross, owner of Alsmeer Fresh Cut Flowers. Alsmeer is a wholesaler that buys flowers on auction at the Johannesburg-based Multiflora Flower Market, the centre of the local flower trade. The company also buys flowers from local farmers and imports flowers from Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Holland, Kenya, Thailand, and Zimbabwe.

The national lockdown closed the local flower industry from March 27, and the government allowed it to reopen again on May 1. When the flower market opened in May, there was a limited supply of local roses because it was autumn and it was getting cold, Gross said.

Colin Glover, the owner of Johannesburg-based Benmore Florists, said red roses saw the most significant price hikes followed by white, yellow and orange roses. The consumers who have noticed the sharp increases the most were those in the habit of buying a bouquet of roses, Glover said. “Some of these consumers have baulked at the price of red roses and opted for another rose colour,” he added.

Farmers need to prune their roses over July and August, and this meant that there was little supply of local roses during those months, he said.

The prices of imported flowers, like certain varieties of roses, tulips and orchids, have also increased partly because of the weakening in the rand against major currencies – as well as because of recent increases in freight costs, especially for flowers from South America.

The cost of a chrysanthemum stem increased from R3.50 before the start of the lockdown on March 27 to R11 a stem, which is a more than tripling in the flower’s price, Gross said.

Chrysanthemums are one of the most important cut flowers used in bouquets and floral decorations like boutonnieres, which people use for special occasions and wear them on a lapel.The prices of carnations and lilies had doubled, Gross said. Carnation stems now cost between R5 and R6.50 a stem compared to R3.50 before the lockdown.Lilies were usually in good supply between May and July, Gross said. But farmers planted much smaller quantities of this flower this year because of […]