Miracle of life spares florists' blushes

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The Independent Online

A Canadian company is promising to put an end to the late-February blues suffered by florists who over-stock for St Valentine's Day.

A Canadian company is promising to put an end to the late-February blues suffered by florists who over-stock for St Valentine's Day.

SunBlush, which will this week float on the UK's lightly regulated Ofex market, has pioneered a means of preserving the shelf life of fresh produce. It has hit upon a membrane which slows down the metabolic rates of anything from aspidistras and azaleas to pineapples and peaches.

By delaying the ageing process, SunBlush will allow florists to avoid the annual ritual of throwing away unwanted bouquets. Instead, they will be able to keep their flowers on the shelves for as much as an extra 10 days. It also affords exporters the luxury of transporting their produce by sea, a much cheaper option than by air. And growers, who at present have to cut their flower crops within days of 14 February, will be able to spread the harvest over an extra week.

The technology, which was developed in the early 1980s by students at the University of British Columbia, works by limiting the oxygen supply while continuing to allow plants to release carbon dioxide. The research has been watered with an investment of $20m (£12.4m) by the company, which is run by President and chief executive officer Nigel Lees. The process does not involve genetic modification. John Cockram, SunBlush's director of European operations, said: "What we are doing is natural."

SunBlush's shares, which are already quoted on the Canadian Venture Exchange, will flower on Ofex on Tuesday. In 1998, the company made a pre-tax loss of $6.57m. In the past few months, Ofex has proved to be fertile ground for many hi-tech businesses, some of which have blossomed into a full listing on the London Stock Exchange.

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