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How shippers deliver love with millions of flowers on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2024 / US
How shippers deliver love with millions of flowers on Valentine’s Day

The annual holiday of love is upon us, and people across the country are going all out to celebrate. In fact, consumers are expected to spend a record-breaking $26 billion on Valentine’s Day this year. Love is in the air—and what better way to express it than sending a beautiful bouquet of flowers? 

Shipping flowers has its unique challenges at any time of year. They’re fragile, need refrigeration, and often come from afar. Given the volume of demand on Valentine’s Day, the stakes are even higher. More than 250 million roses are grown alone for the holiday, and suppliers have the precarious task of ensuring the precious buds arrive at retailers and flower shops on time. 

So, how do flowers get from farms to warehouses, to shops, and eventually, to their destinations?

A flower’s journey from farm to vase

Before buyers pick up roses from their local flower shop, those flowers make a trek across the globe. Most Valentine’s Day flowers are cultivated along the equator in Ecuador, Colombia, or Kenya, where perfect growing conditions persist year-round. Once the blossoms are plucked and prepped, they’re packed by hand into refrigerated airplanes for the start of their journey. 

Chilly charter planes give flowers a first-class flight to Miami, where most wholesalers in the U.S. operate. There, thousands of seasonal workers meticulously sort flowers into smaller boxes or gift packaging to be loaded onto planes, freight trucks, or delivery vans headed to destinations throughout the U.S. Once they arrive, it’s up to couriers to deliver flowers to local florists, retailers, or consumers’ doorsteps. 

The economic outlook: No rose without thorns

Despite the intricacy of flowers and a complicated supply chain, florists nationwide have executed seamless shipping for decades. The Covid-19 pandemic brought a new wave of demand. The gifting industry soared, with consumers turning to flower deliveries to connect with loved ones when they couldn’t be together in person. But economic conditions have lowered Valentine’s Day spending in recent years. 

In 2024, after a year of high inflation, demand has yet to recover. Only half of consumers are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day—and 52% have cut down on nonessential spending. But although economic conditions overall are down, the stakes are high for those who will drop cash on the holiday: those celebrating expect to spend $157 on average, and flowers comprise a big chunk of that price. 

Luckily, veteran distributors like 1-800-Flowers and Florists’ Transworld Delivery (FTD) are stepping up to the challenge to deliver on time and delight customers (and their loved ones). Typically, distributors work closely with carriers and logistics providers to prepare for the holiday by adjusting shipments to take on a higher percentage of flower loads. In other words, they’re asking shipping partners to prioritize flowers over other deliveries and extending shipping estimates for other orders.

To increase shipping efficiency, shippers have also turned to full-featured parcel transportation management systems (PTMS). A parcel transportation management system can determine whether there are enough shipments to justify a full truck or less-than-truckload (LTL), or whether those items would be better serviced through parcel delivery. Other PTMS shipping options include date shopping, helping shippers ensure delivery by a specific date at the lowest cost. 

To secure capacity urgently, they also turn to fast and tech-enabled approaches that deliver service without sacrificing cost.

Just in time for Cupid’s big day

The bouquets’ journey—despite its complexity—is completed in mere days, making the feat that suppliers, shippers, and couriers undertake nothing short of magical. 

This week, flowers are making their way to loved ones worldwide. And, thanks to careful preparation, parcel transportation management solutions, and resiliency across supply chains, shippers are well-positioned to deliver everyone’s favorite florets. 

Save 10% on your first load with Uber Freight’s Shipper Platform: use code LOVE10.


A version of this article originally appeared in Supply & Demand Chain Executive in 2023 here
Learn more about how Uber Freight helps businesses navigate peak shipping seasons here.

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