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Buying a few roses quickly for a birthday? In Europe, more and more supermarkets are offering fresh cut flowers. But customers mostly have no idea of the global business that stands behind them. A dissertation on the global cut flowers market helps visualise the situation.

At Royal FloraHolland in Aalsmeer in the Netherlands, Europe’s biggest flower auction is held daily. The auction sales for flowers for Germany alone amount to EUR 1.5 billion a year. Less and less flowers are being sold in florist shops, as almost all European supermarket chains offer fresh cut flowers daily. Their wholesalers buy them mostly in Aalsmeer. Germany accounts for the biggest share, at 27.3 per cent, followed by the UK and France.

Almost half the sales are of roses, a popular gift for birthdays, Mother’s Day or other special occasions. Kenya and Ethiopia export roses to the value of EUR 330 million and EUR 180 million a year respectively, with by far the largest share of imports to the EU. Customers choose bouquets by freshness and appearance – less by origin and social considerations.

The Bonn geographer Andreas Gemählich at Leipzig’s Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) has visualised the trade in cut flowers, which is non-transparent for most consumers, on a new web portal in English and German.

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