It’s the flower shippers who deserve the love on Valentine’s Day!
Most people have no idea what those beautiful flowers go through to get to you. The ones that wind up on coffee tables and office desks across the U.S. -- it’s not just a stroll down from the local flower shop. Oh, no. It is more likely that those beautiful buds have traveled thousands of miles, through various temperature zones, over bumpy roads and border crossings, to get to you.
Just a little trivia… If you are wondering where most of the flowers sold on Valentine’s Day come from, they primarily stem from (see what I did there?) warmer climates, such as Columbia, Mexico and Ecuador. Columbia exports the most, around 500 million tons of flowers. That is close to 80 percent of America’s imported flowers.
In case anyone asks you, the Freedom rose is the most sought-after flower procured by retailers during the amorous holiday. To fully understand the process that growers and shippers go through to get these lovely bouquets to you, well… suffice it to say, it must be true love! Shipper’s responsibilities are enormous, including everything from precise timing, securing capacity, finding reliable transport, and being able to know where their precious cargo is at any given time. Getting these glorious blooms to market in prime condition takes logistics know-how.
- Finding Capacity: One of the most prevalent challenges is finding capacity, or available trucks with the right equipment, in such a short window of time. Many of the loads are less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments which require more specialized handling due to multiple stops, trailer doors opening and closing, creating possible temperature variations.
- Using Experienced Transportation: It is generally thought that fresh cut flowers need to be in water 24/7 but that’s not so. When it comes to shipping flowers, they need to handled much like produce, in a temperature-controlled environment, or refrigerated van. Some growers even require the humidity to be kept at a certain level throughout the shipment’s route to keep the product as fresh as possible. Any deviation along the way can mean a truckload of spoiled flowers, and that can be an expensive mishap.
- Tracking: Alice L. Givens is the president of one of the largest suppliers of fresh-cut flowers in the southeast, Carlstedt’s. They have 12 distribution centers with every location covering a hundred-mile radius. The company services a variety of chain stores such as Whole Foods, Winn Dixie, and Wal-Mart. Givens says, “Tracking matters! Some of our locations have 5 trucks per week, so we need to know where they are at all times. Any delay can be a huge problem.”
If you are a grower or shipper of flowers, be sure to select a seasoned transportation professional that understands the delicate business of shipping nursery freight and cut flowers, along with its many challenges. Established freight brokers, or 3PLs like Choptank Transport, have 24-hour coverage, real-time tracking, and the vast experience that comes from working with all the major retailers and wholesalers across the country.