The Logistics Challenges Posed by Valentine’s Day Flowers

It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day is the biggest holiday for florists, but few people take the time to think about the supply chain that goes into pulling off this day of romance. It’s a complicated holiday, with many flower orders coming in at the last minute.

Thirty-five percent of Americans are expected to purchase flowers to the tune of $2 billion on this day, and there are so many variables that can complicate matters. In addition to the highly perishable nature of flowers, Valentine’s Day comes at a time of year when the weather can be very unpredictable and severe winter storms are not unusual. On top of that, many delivery trucks run long transportation routes, so supply chains must be absolutely seamless to get everything where it needs to be on time.

Most of the flowers sold in America actually come from places like Europe, South America, and Africa, making the cold chain a huge player in flower delivery. The main entry point for planes transporting flowers is Miami International Airport, where customs agents inspected 801 million cut flower stems from January 1 to February 14 in 2014 alone. The stems are kept in refrigerated rooms in the airport before making their way across the country in refrigerated planes or trucks. From regional airports, they move to refrigerated distribution centers and then on to florists, although some are made into bouquets right at the distribution center and sent out to customers.

Keeping them at the right temperature throughout this long journey can be a big challenge, and cold chain interruptions can cause flowers to lose as much as 40 percent of their vase life, even if they are returned to a cold environment after the interruption.

Ensuring On-Time Delivery

Online flower company FTD orders flowers and containers anywhere from nine months to a year ahead of time. As the big day approaches, florists start putting together the greenery part of the bouquets as they await the arrival of the flowers themselves, and they often hire extra drivers. Another way some florists are lightening their load on February 14 is by offering discounts for delivery on the 13th instead.

The goal is for the flowers to last two to three weeks at the customer level, so getting the cold chain process right is essential.

This blog post was based off of an article from Supply Chain Dive. View the original here.

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