LAN CARGO and its affiliates transport more than 200 million flowers to the United States for St. Valentine’s

Written by thomas · Filed Under Cargo 

February 16, 2015


During this season, 10 freighters full of flowers take off from Ecuador and Colombia on a daily basis.
Thursday, February 11, 2015 — LAN CARGO and its affiliates transport more than 16 million bouquets (a total of 200 million flowers) during the four-week rush that leads up to St. Valentine’s Day, the time of year during which flower exports reach their peak. During the season, companies transport around 30% of the total flower market in the region, or around 10,400 tons.

Between January 19 and February 8, the busiest weeks of the season, approximately 170 LAN CARGO and LAN CARGO Colombia freighters (10 per day) take off from Ecuador and Colombia, tripling the monthly average. The Bogota-Miami route, which regularly transports 720 tons of flowers  per week, the figure reaches 2,100 tons per week during the Valentine’s season.

Freighters take off from Bogota, Medellin (Colombia) and Quito (Ecuador) and fly mainly to the United States and the Netherlands. The majority lands in Miami — one of the world’s most important distribution hubs —, where LAN CARGO owns the largest cold-storage warehouse operated by a foreign air carrier at an airport in the US.

Eighty percent of Colombian and Ecuadorian flowers enter the United States through Miami International Airport and, out of that total, 60% is kept in Florida while the remaining 40% is transported — mainly by truck — to other cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“Flowers are transported during the entire year, however there are two key dates — St. Valentine’s and Mother’s Day — around which we focus all our energy and work jointly to cover the sharp increase in demand. This mean moving three times more cargo than regularly,” said Cristian Ureta, CEO of LAN CARGO.

Thanks to this effort, the 2015 St. Valentine’s operation achieved positive results. At the conclusion of the season, the company will transport 10,400 tons of flowers for Valentine’s, a 3% increase compared to 2014, when 9,104 tons were shipped.

The more than 200 million flower stems transported by LAN CARGO cover the entirety of the female population in the United States, composed of 160 million women. This means that every woman could potentially receive one of the flowers imported to the country during Valentine’s season.

Flower market in Colombia and Ecuador

Even though some Latin American countries like Peru, Costa Rica and Guatemala have their own flower production, the main producers are Colombia and Ecuador, which export more than 29,000 tons of fresh flowers to more than 90 countries, just during Valentine’s season.

Floriculture is fundamental to both countries’ economies, representing their top non-traditional agricultural export. The main varieties transported are red roses (more than 60%, with producers tripling production for this season), carnations, pompoms and chrysanthemums. In 2014, LAN CARGO and its affiliates transported a total of 121,568 tons of flowers from these two countries, jointly achieving a market share of approximately 26%.

The flower market remains active throughout the year, though demand peaks during Valentine’s season (January and February) and Mother’s Day season (April and May).
The flowers arrive at LAN CARGO’s facilities in Miami and, while rigorously maintaining the cold chain required for their transportation and preservation, they are distributed to different cities in the United States and, in smaller quantities, to Europe via Amsterdam and Australia and New Zealand via Sydney.

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