As the roses and tropical flowers flow north from Latin America – particularly from Colombia and Ecuador – for Valentine’s Day, UPS plans to move more than 100 million fragrant blossoms. That’s enough to fill approximately seventy 767 cargo aircraft.
More than 90 percent of imported flowers will pass through Miami International Airport, where UPS has a large presence. Additionally, LAN Cargo and its affiliates transported 9,026 tonnes of flowers on approximately 100 freighters between Jan. 18 and Feb. 7, tripling its average number of flights operated throughout the year. Your sweetie can rest assured the supply won’t run out and her (or his) bouquet will arrive fresh because the entire journey, from flower farmer to the importer, takes less than two days.
Consumers are expected to spend $147 per person on Valentine’s gifts this year, with $41 of that going toward flowers. All told, U.S. consumers are projected to spend almost $20 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts.
IAG Cargo will also be busy, with red roses comprising 95 percent of the roses shipped on its flights. The Valentine’s Day period for air cargo carriers generally starts during the last two weeks of January and ends the first week of February.
“Every year we increase our operational resources to expedite incoming flower shipments,” said Domingo Mendez, UPS air cargo manager. “This year, UPS is moving 560,000 boxes of flowers – that’s more than 8 million dozen roses.”
To handle the volume, UPS has added 40 additional temperature-controlled flights. The flowers stay fresh in a refrigerated warehouse about the size of five basketball courts, located in the UPS air cargo facility at MIA, where they are inspected and sorted for travel to their final destinations. Eighty percent of the Colombian and Ecuadorian flowers transported by the LATAM Group enter the U.S. through MIA as well; of those flowers, 90 percent remains in Florida and the remaining 10 percent is transported to Los Angeles. LAN Cargo’s facilities in Miami also maintain the cool chain required for transportation and preservation of the flowers.
IAG, which will carry Kenyan roses, said that flower volumes destined for the U.S. have increased 50 percent over last year’s season, with popular destinations including Vancouver and New York. The increase is partially due to increased e-commerce activity, particularly in the U.S., where consumers are buying directly from the farmers, predominantly in Kenya.
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