An orchid cultivating company in the northwestern province of Yalova sold 200,000 orchids to Saudi Arabia prior to Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, which is celebrated all around the world and crucial in terms of flower exports.
Turhan Tuğtekin, Solo Plant's chairman, said that they have brought in domestically-grown orchids as an alternative to roses, which is the indispensable gift on Valentine's Day.
Emphasizing that they have been growing orchids at a 40,000-square-meter facility, Tuğtekin said they are one of the few orchid producers in Turkey.
He said that they produce approximately 2 million "phalaenopsis" orchids a year. "We used to import this type of flower but now we produce them. We want to produce 2.5 million phalaenopsises a year," he added.
Tuğtekin said that their business has gained momentum due to the Valentine's Day. "Orchids have become very popular on Valentine's Day in recent years. We sell nearly half of our annual production prior to Valentine's Day. It is not as expensive as it used to be. You can now buy orchids for TL 25," he said.
He noted that the favorable price has boosted interest in this flower. "It is hard to grow these flowers. It takes about three years for an orchid to grow. Maybe in that respect, it has a different meaning as a Valentine's Day gift. A precious flower in every respect."
Underlining that there was a lot of demand ahead of Valentine's Day, Tuğtekin said they have been providing flowers to the domestic as well as international market. "We exported 200,000 orchids to Saudi Arabia before Valentine's Day. Our overseas expansion will continue. Our goal is to send orchids to the Netherlands next year. We aim to export 40 percent of our products to various countries," he said.
The Central Anatolian Ornamental Plants and Products Exporters Association Chairman İsmail Yılmaz said 50 million flowers worth around $8 million were exported to some 20 countries, including the Netherlands, Britain and Germany for Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day is celebrated with cards, flowers and chocolates but has its roots in a 3rd-century priest in Rome who performed secret marriages between young people. Killed by the Roman emperor Claudius II in 270 A.D., St. Valentine is honored by Christian churches every year.
However, across the world, also in Turkey, young people have developed a trend for surprise proposals on this day.