Flowers: A Prime Example of the Efficiency of Cold-Chain Logistics

It probably comes as no surprise that Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the prime seasons for fresh flower deliveries. What many people don’t realize, however, is that those cheerful blooms most likely took a journey of thousands of miles before the delivery man showed up with them at your door.

How is it that they still look every bit as healthy and vibrant as the day they were plucked? The truth is that the moment they were plucked can actually often be measured in hours, not days. A logistics cold chain helps bring freshly snipped flowers as quickly as possible halfway across the world and through customs.

Kept In Coolers Every Step Of The Way

The vast majority—nine out of ten, of imported flowers globally arrive at the Miami International Airport from locations in South America such as Ecuador and Colombia. They are cut in the morning, hydrated, and rushed to coolers before being picked up by refrigerated trucks that bring them to the airport for their journey to Miami.

At the airport, coolers are stationed just outside of where the cargo plans park, and the highly efficient unloaders can get everything off the plane and into the cooler in under an hour. UPS keeps a massive cooler that eclipses more than five basketball courts to keep those blooms at a brisk 38 degrees Fahrenheit. This unloading is the only time during the journey they are not actually refrigerated, but they do manage to stay cool throughout that small transitional period.

Random customs checks take place at this point, looking for everything from signs of insects to honest labeling. After clearing customs, the wholesalers and importers pick them up in refrigerated trucks and take them out for delivery, showing up at your house with beautiful flowers that were picked less than 48 hours ago in most cases.

During the peak Valentine’s Day season, UPS cargo planes ship an impressive 100 million stems, making flowers a prime example of the efficiency of cold-chain logistics.