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Valentine's Day Goes Thorns-Up with New Border Rule Woes

Last week, confusion over border rules prevailed, and Valentine’s Day was marked by chaos. Worldwide as Valentine’s Day approaches, lovers eagerly anticipate expressing their affection through heartfelt gestures, often symbolised by the exchange of flowers.

The British Florists’ Association (BFA) reports that around 250 million cut stem flowers are purchased globally on Valentine’s Day each year. In the UK alone, approximately 4 million bouquets of flowers are estimated to be sold annually on Valentine’s Day.

This romantic holiday constitutes more than 5% of the total flower sales annually. Notably, the beloved red rose, a quintessential symbol of love, saw a price hike last year. Both Dutch and Colombian roses experienced a 9% increase in price, attributed to rises in air freight costs and European energy prices, respectively.

Brexit breaks hearts

This year, the rollout of the initial BTOM deadline on January 31st presented a fresh hurdle. These new rules apply to specific plant and animal products categorised as medium-risk, adding an extra layer of complexity to the regulatory landscape.

The additional paperwork and procedures required post-Brexit created bottlenecks at ports and border crossings, leading to delays in flower deliveries and disrupting supply chains.

In the floral industry, time is of the essence as flowers are highly perishable goods, and any delays in transportation or customs clearance can have a detrimental impact on their freshness and quality.

Roses, typically sourced from the EU, encounter logistical hurdles during transportation. These inspections cause delays that immediately affect the strict timelines the businesses have to follow.

Delays at border checkpoints, more paperwork, and extra customs inspections all add up, leading to longer transit times. This puts the freshness and on-time delivery of these romantic symbols at risk.

When flower deliveries are delayed, it sets off a race against the clock. Such challenges disrupt schedules, impact customer satisfaction, and ultimately affect the overall efficiency and profitability of businesses within the floral sector.

The Dutch Association of wholesalers in floricultural products (VG industry) has raised concerns about Brexit trade barriers, anticipating higher costs and delays for their business.

Vast quantities of flowers are processed and shipped through the Netherlands to the UK, and therefore diversifying suppliers is simply not feasible. As a result of this, florists and retailers in the UK find themselves grappling with the associated changes.

The Silver Lining

Reuters has reported that the industry stakeholders have objected to the new border checks. However, the government assures it’s working to resolve these issues and ensure a smooth implementation of the checks.

For example, the floral industry enjoys certain advantages in the documentation process. Unlike animal products, which require a 24-hour turnaround for reviewing documentation, plants only need 4 hours.

Additionally, electronic documents are readily accepted in the plant industry, making the process more efficient. For instance, multiple entries like roses and Christmas trees can be permitted on a single health certificate, streamlining administrative tasks and facilitating smoother trade operations.

Love Blooms Eternal

Love transcends borders, regulations, and logistical hurdles. While the journey of a rose from the fields of the EU to the hands of a lover in the UK may encounter obstacles, businesses continue to demonstrate resilience in navigating this evolving landscape of international trade.

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