Logistics: A Labor of Love

Tomorrow will mark the one month anniversary of Valentine’s day, so, let’s take a look back. It doesn’t matter whether the man is well organized or in a panic, when he buys flowers for his valentine, he probably doesn’t consider how they came to be in the shop. Supply chains, as well as men, are put under significant pressure on Valentine’s Day.

Approximately 75% of Valentine’s consumers are male, so they are the gender who can be most grateful for the system which has been built on travel, distance, temperature, time and those dedicated to UPS.

The hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day generates $1.7 billion in flower sales and a total spend of $19 billion on all romantic purchases, including dinners, soft toys and the miscellaneous variety of gifts, which are purchased annually to mark the occasion.

Although it has come to be known as a “hallmark holiday,” suspected to be a contrivance of the greeting card industry to boost sales between Mothers Day and Christmas, the occasion is a tradition from both the ancient Roman and Christian traditions.

The American Florists Society claims that Valentines Day sales account for 36% of holiday transactions annually and contributes 40% of cash revenue. Added to this, the National Retail Federation reports that flowers make up $41 of the $142 dollar average Valentines gift spend.

The logistical challenge to meet this demand begins with how long the journeys are, with the majority of fresh flowers being sourced from Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Maintaining the temperature of these flowers is crucial to their condition, with 40 degrees Fahrenheit being the optimum. If this is exceeded the flowers will ‘break dormancy’, which means they bloom and begin to wilt before they get to the store—any colder and they will be vulnerable to frost damage.

The hub for this operation is Miami International Airport, which is responsible for approximately 90% of flower imports, and UPS is responsible for the majority of these shipments. From here, all of the major flowers producing nations are accessible.

Approximately 110 million flowers were shipped this year, weighing about 10 million pounds. They have been sourced from Ecuador and Colombia primarily. UPS states that flowers are up there with the most delicate items they ship, and they are vividly aware that one problem anywhere along the journey could mean trouble for the people they supply. Just like the men, they are under pressure to get it right on the night.

So, in honor of the one month anniversary of Valentine’s Day, take a moment to think about all of the logistics that are involved in getting millions of women fresh flowers in the dead of winter all in one day!

Read more about the logistical miracle that is known as Valentine’s Day on the UPS blog.