Valentine’s Day roses: where did yours come from?

An Ecuadorian rose

For the past two years, Valentine’s Day (February 14) fell on a weekend. This year, floriculturists across Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia, are glad it’s on a Tuesday, since a weekday—as opposed to a weekend—holiday tends to boost flower sales.


Mexican cut flowers, traditionally not large players in the international flower market, have been expanding into the U.S. Advances in quality and availability, and the cost benefit of proximity to the U.S. market, have prompted Mexican growers to ship to southwestern cities including San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

Uncertainty about future trade with the U.S. has Mexican growers seeking links with Mexican companies registered for business in the U.S., thus avoiding potential trade barriers that could quash unconnected exporters. Mexican floriculturists are also considering expansion into Canada, which has fewer trade restrictions.

Ecuador and Colombia

While overcast days have delayed flower formation in Ecuador and Colombia, the climate leading up to this year’s Valentine’s Day push has been otherwise favorable.

Gypsophilia – Baby’s Breath – in postharvest preparation for shipping

Both nations, who consider each other competitors in the cut flower business, expect to ship more stems this year than last. Nearly 60% of all cut flowers from Ecuador and Colombia arrive in the U.S., followed by Europe at approximately 30%. The rose, of course, is the mainstay, though Colombia continues to be the world’s largest carnation exporter, and the overall second-largest cut flower exporter after Holland.

Rose varieties showcased by an Ecuadorian grower

A strong dollar, cause for joy among Colombian exporters, is more tepidly regarded in Ecuador where the dollar has been the national currency since the sucre collapsed in the late 1990s, and where fiscal policy has locally inflated prices in recent years. Colombian growers see the favorable exchange rate as an opportunity to invest internally for future growth and expansion. Nonetheless, growers have seen increased shipping costs over the past year, as reduced imports from the U.S. has cargo planes deadheading on the return trip.

The three-week Valentine’s Day window, which begins in the last week of January and ends just before February 14, will account for around 12% of Colombia’s yearly flower sales. Other peaks in demand occur in early March for International Women’s Day (March 8 in 2017) and in early May for Mother’s Day (May 14 in 2017).

How do you plan to support the industry this year?

The information in this post was gathered from the following sources:

Mexico: Milenio

Ecuador: El Universo, El Comercio

Colombia: El TiempoEl Heraldo, El Colombiano

Author: Paul Froese

I am a freelance Spanish to English translator specializing in scientific and technical texts. Visit my translation website at

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