Roses are red, violets are blue... How are flowers transported to you?
Flowers are a major part of many events all year round, including birthdays, weddings and funerals, but findings show that sales spike in the UK at this time of year thanks to Valentine’s Day in February and Mothers’ day in March. As with all perishables, a great deal of care must be taken in the transportation of the flowers from the field to a loved one's hands – so how do logistics professionals deal with the increased demand for this fragile package this time of year?
Before anyone can say ‘Be Mine’, the shipping and logistics of fresh flowers begin weeks before Valentine’s Day. Like all perishable products, flowers require the right speed, conditions, and care to be transported successfully. The logistical motion must be kept in constant flow to ensure that not only do the flowers arrive at their destination in the best possible condition, but to ensure maximum profitability for all parties involved.
One day lost in the flower delivery process can result in a 10% decrease in the flower’s shelf life thus limiting the opportunity for the retailer to sell the product. While this may seem like a minimal loss of profit for major retailers and supermarkets, it can prove catastrophic for the smaller independent florists that make up 20% of all holiday sales figures...Not to mention the tragic loss and wastage of the beautiful flowers themselves.
Many people assume that the majority of flowers are shipped from the Netherlands – however, these only make up around 2% of all imported volume. Eighty percent of all flowers sold for Valentine’s Day are shipped to wintertime UK from warm Latin America; providing the first complication for logistics experts. A sudden change in temperature means the flowers bloom and fade before they are gifted.
To avoid this early bloom, freshly cut flowers are cooled to 35°F in a process called cold chain shipping. This makes the flowers dormant, preventing them from blooming too quickly and prolonging their shelf life. Logistics professionals take care to ensure the flowers remain at this temperature until they arrive at the retailer ready for purchase. At this point, they are exposed to slightly warmer temperatures allowing them to leave dormancy and bloom in time for the big day.
Win or Wilt?
Since flowers begin to decompose the moment they are cut, international flower delivery is truly a race against the clock. Whether you are buying flowers for the love of your life on Valentine’s Day, or the very first woman in your life on Mothers’ Day, spare a thought for the hard-working logistics experts who take careful time and effort to provide you with the best quality bunches – after all, the flowers you give could be the decider of whether you get a kiss or the cold shoulder!
Written by Kerry-Ann Holleyman - Team Assistant at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd.