We are entering one of the most import, if not the most important time of the year for the flower business. Most people in the industry do not know how complicated logistics has become, but after this Valentine’s Day, they will. Covid has thrown a wrench in everything logistics and Valentine’s day 2022 it will be more apparent than ever.
We must begin by telling the story of where these beautiful flowers come from. Ecuador and Colombia grow over 90% of all the flowers that are consumed in the U.S. Thus, getting flowers from these countries require predictable and efficient logistics. Most flowers have between 10-21 days post-harvest before they start to spoil. This is why almost all of the importers in Miami typically use airfreight. Airfreight pre-Covid did have its inconsistencies, but they were so rare that they were more of an inconvenience than a problem. Flowers would be cut on day 1, processed by the farm on day 2, and then boxed and shipped to the airport on day 3. The airline or freight forwarder would then receive and consolidate the shipments and fill the plane as much as possible on day 4. The flowers would arrive into Miami on Day 5, and maximum by day 6, would be in the possession of the importer. The importer would then do their best to sell the flowers within a 3 day period to be trucked to the local wholesaler. On average the retailer received flowers 10-13 days post-harvest.
Covid has now changed everything and not for the better. All of the world’s logistics has been affected by staff shortages and inconsistent volumes. Air freight is considerably more expensive than sea. The extensive sea freight issues have increased the demand for airfreight, and that means that the airlines are deviating their flights to higher paying markets. There are now less airplanes flying from Ecuador or Colombia and consequently less space. Because of the limited space, freight forwarders are having to use chartered flights, and that is the main reason for these exaggerated rates.
This situation has forced many of the big importers and distributors to find cheaper methods to bring flowers in from Colombia and Ecuador. The only other alternative is sea freight. This adds many extra days that the flower is in transport before reaching its final destination. It can take the farm an extra 2-3 days to get the flowers from the highlands to the coasts where the shipping docks are located. Then it can take an extra week of traveling via sea to get to Miami. This means that the flowers have to leave an average of 10 days earlier to arrive at the same time as if they were shipped via air freight. The majority of the retailers for Valentine’s Day like to have their flowers a week before the 14th. The only way to deliver on time via sea transport is to cut the flower 10 days earlier then desired, and that means that flowers for the 14th of February may have been harvested as early as the 14th of January.
This is the year to be extremely skeptical of low prices, especially on roses. If the rose was imported by sea, the rose will be older and potentially smaller. The longer you let a rose grow before harvesting it, the bigger everything grows, especially the head. Harvesting a rose prior to its desired cutting stage results in an immature rose that will have thinner and smaller stems and significantly smaller heads. Smaller immature roses also tend to suffer more from bent neck syndrome because their stems at the base of the head aren’t thick and sturdy enough.
Fmifarms’ goal is to get the flower as soon as possible to the florist/floral designer, guaranteeing freshness above all else. We will be using FedEx to either ship straight from the farm and or importing via airfreight and shipping via FedEx from Miami to our customers across the country. We believe that our customer’s reputation and thus ours depends on it.