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Valentine’s Day aside, roses resist inflation

This Valentine's Day, any roses you may have been lucky enough to receive, or kind enough to give, probably didn't come from U.S. growers.

A rose is a rose is a rose. But the rose business? It's neither rosy nor romantic.

“The industry overall is very competitive,” says Ben Powell, chief operating officer of Mayesh Wholesale Florist. We used to buy most of our roses from California, but foreign competition has made things thorny for American flower farmers.

"The U.S. growers of cut flowers really haven't been a major factor in roses for probably 20 years," Powell says.

Any roses you may have been lucky enough to receive, or kind enough to give, today probably came from South America. Colombia and Ecuador grow the vast majority of roses sold in the U.S. Lower costs in those countries are one of the reasons rose prices here have remained the same for the past couple decades.

In Los Angeles or New York, florists sell long-stem roses for about $70 a dozen. At the grocery store, a bouquet is just $10.

Christine Boldt, excecutive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, says the shorter-stemmed roses now widely available at major retailers are also holding prices down.

"If you're buying it from a supermarket or a Costco, BJs or Wal-Mart, you're not paying for it to be put into a vase by a designer and put together, and having a bigger presentation," she says.

But despite the stable prices over the years, there's one time each year that roses succumb to hyperinflation, winning the love of the flower industry. On Valentine's Day, rose romantics can expect to pay much more­ -- even double.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.
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