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Valentine's Day: a logistical love


Valentine's Day: a logistical love

Ian Kerr

Valentine’s Day is big business for the postal and delivery sectors.

This year, UPS estimates it will deliver 89 million flowers in time for Valentine’s Day - one million up on last year.

Transporting nine million pounds (about 4000 tonnes) of flowers across the globe - and in peak condition - is no small feat. UPS transports the flowers in temperature-controlled aircraft and trucks from growing fields in Latin America through the Miami International Airport to final recipients in less than two days.

"UPS has been a major player in importing flowers in recent years. About 80% of cut flowers are flowing into Miami's airport, with UPS handling a significant volume." - Cathy Morrow Roberson, Logistics Trends & Insights

The UPS facilities in Miami include an enormous refrigerated warehouse the size of about five basketball courts. US Customs and Border Protection agents inspect and sort the boxes for fast clearance before collection by flower distributors.

"This is a great example of a cross-border, temperature-controlled delivery service. While it might almost seem frivolous to have such a sophisticated supply chain for flowers, the technology behind it is central to executing temperature-controlled delivery for vital pharmaceutical supplies." - Cathy Morrow Roberson, Logistics Trends & Insights

The temperature is critical - too warm and the flowers can "break dormancy", meaning they bloom and start to fade before they reach their destination. Too cold and they risk freeze damage.

UPS has added 50 extra flights during this period to handle what is expected to be more than 517,000 bloom-filled boxes.

“While the shipment of flowers in support of Valentine’s Day is a huge revenue opportunity for the Express Carriers and flower merchants, it is not without risk. Cold weather in the US in early February can result in the delivery of frozen or wilted flowers. Those same cold and icy winter weather conditions often result in delayed flights and late, Valentine’s Day deliveries. But then again, wilted or late flowers shouldn’t matter as it’s the thought and gesture that matters most, right?” - Dean Maciuba, Managing Partner Last Mile Experts North America.

According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers will spend an estimated US$20.7 billion, up from $19.6 billion a year ago, on gifts for Valentine’s Day. Roughly $1.9 billion of that will be spent on flowers, and $933 million on greeting cards.

(What always boggles my mind is the amount people spend on their pets for Valentine’s Day! National Retail Federation data indicates that US consumers will spend $886 million on their pets! Wow. And to think, those same pets never spend a cent on presents for their owners. Ingrates.)

Meanwhile in the UK…

Royal Mail has unveiled four ‘romantic’ postboxes across the UK, which honour the life and works of some of Britain’s greatest writers on love.

The postboxes are adorned in quotes from some of the best-loved work of romantic poets and authors John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Anna Seward and Robert Burns. They will be in place for a month.

Royal Mail hopes that the four boxes encourage lovelorn wordsmiths to send their own literary masterpieces in the form of love letters and Valentine’s Day cards this year.

Actors from Keats House Museum at the unveiling of a ‘romantic’ postbox in honour of poet John Keats in London’s Hampstead Heath.

Actors from Keats House Museum at the unveiling of a ‘romantic’ postbox in honour of poet John Keats in London’s Hampstead Heath.

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