UPS Inc. will help millions of flowers make their way from Latin America to customers across the United States this Valentine's Day, the company said this week.
The Atlanta-based transportation and logistics giant said it expects to transport one million more flowers than it did last year, as air shipment demand will drive an estimated delivery of 89 million blooms. That translates to about 9 million pounds of flowers, coming mainly from Latin America through Miami International Airport, where UPS is one of the largest air cargo carriers, and then on to distributors who will deliver them to customers nationwide—all in less than two days, according to the company.
UPS said it has added 50 extra flights to handle what is expected to be more than 517,000 bloom-filled boxes.
"This is made possible by our intelligent logistics network, which can deftly handle everything from precious flowers to a critical healthcare supply and everything in between," said Kevin Warren, UPS's chief marketing officer.
Temperature-controlled aircraft and trucks transport the flowers from fields in countries such as Ecuador and Colombia to the United States. Teams then meet the shipments at the Miami UPS facilities and rush them to a refrigerated warehouse cooler the size of about five basketball courts. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspect and sort the boxes for fast clearance before flower distributors pick them up and get them to delivery, UPS said.
U.S. consumers will spend an estimated $20.7 billion, up from $19.6 billion a year ago, on gifts for Valentine's Day, according to data from the National Retail Federation. Roughly $1.9 billion of that will come from flowers.
UPS said customers can send last-minute gifts as late as February 13 using UPS' Next Day Air service.