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Winnipeg businesses cash in on Valentine’s Day

WINNIPEG — It’s the month of love and every Feb. 14 businesses hope to capitalize on just how “in love” couples are.

Valentine’s Day has turned in to a multibillion-dollar money maker for businesses, with sales of flowers, greeting cards and, of course, chocolates.

Statistics Canada indicates sales of chocolate and confectioneries made from cocoa totalled $110 million in Canada in February 2012. However, that’s peanuts compared to the United States, where Valentine’s chocolate sales topped $1 billion in 2012.

Chocolatier Constance Popp on Provencher Boulevard has been preparing its Valentine’s gourmet goods since December.

Owner Constance Popp has perfected the chocolate strawberry, but it’s her made-in-Manitoba collaborations that help put this chocolatier over the top.

“We have a beer series that we make that includes Farmery Brewery, Half Pints and Fort Garry beers,” said Popp. “The chocolates are topped with bacon and pretzel bits.”

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The store also uses Manitoba honey, syrup and seeds and has created its very own Manitobar, which is shaped like the province.

But if a sweet tooth isn’t the way to your heart, there are always flowers, another popular choice come V-Day.

Petals West Inc. supplies millions of flowers to florists and grocers throughout the city.

The company had 20 semi-trailer trucks full of stems delivered to produce 80 truckloads of bouquets that were shipped out.

Operations manager Tyler Specula said they go through nearly 600,000 roses for Valentine’s Day, with an overwhelming majority being — you guessed it — red.

Roses have become the Feb. 14 signature flower, and more specifically, red roses are in high demand.

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Specula said the price of red roses increases ahead of Valentine’s Day for two reasons: logistics and numbers.

The majority of all roses sold in Canada are imported to Miami from South America. They are then shipped across the border to Manitoba.

High demand increases the number of stems being flown in, which means more planes are needed, but those planes fly back south empty, meaning the price goes up.

In order to ensure there is enough supply ready for February, growers have to “cheat” the plants to produce during the prime weeks, which also means there is a lag before and after February.

According to Statistics Canada, 117.6 million stems of roses were imported to Canada in 2012, mostly from Ecuador and Colombia.

Once you have your bouquet, Specula said, don’t believe all the myths and tricks you may read about how to make them last longer. Pennies, vodka and soda never really work.

The best thing to do is cut the flowers at a 45 degree angle using a sharp knife, put them in cold water and change the water every few days, Specula said.

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