Global demand for flowers at record high

According to the United States National Retail Federation, this year’s Valentine’s Day spending is projected to reach $15.7 billion, up more than 17 percent from last year.

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Consumer demand in emerging markets for more out-of-season perishables – including flowers for Valentine’s Day – is keeping logistics providers busy this season.

According to Heike Delgado, head of perishables for DHL Global Forwarding Latin America, the hemispheric cold chain has never been busier.

“No matter where you are in North or South America,” she said in an interview, “the expectations of the middle class is that Valentine’s Day means fresh flowers.”

Despite the heavy rains in Ecuador and Colombia, which strongly impacted the growing season this year, as well as capacity constraints on northbound freight, DHL Global Forwarding secured three chartered aircraft to offer customers the ability to move flowers during this peak season.

According to the United States National Retail Federation, this year’s Valentine’s Day spending is projected to reach $15.7 billion, up more than 17 percent from last year. Cut flowers, especially roses, are one of the most popular and traditional gifts for Valentine’s Day and the federation expects consumers to spend $1.7 billion on flowers.

Flower growers and exporters, primarily in Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica, have been gearing up to satisfy higher market demand for 2011. This year, producers started exporting for St. Valentine’s Day at least two weeks ago. 

Delgado told LM that the main destination for flowers exported from Latin America is the United States. DHL ships flowers to Miami and Los Angeles international airports, and from there they are distributed nationwide.  Amsterdam and Moscow also are key destinations since Amsterdam is the world’s largest center for flower distribution and auctions, and Russia one of the largest single-country consumers of flowers.

“We are making the most of ‘sea-air’ distribution strategies, too,” she said. “We can fly to LAX for example, and then sent by ocean vessel to Asia.”

Roses dominate the Valentine’s Day market and represent the largest share of flowers exported from Latin America.  About 65 percent of the roses exported are red, while the rest are other vibrant colors. Other types of flowers, referred to in the industry as “fillers,” are also shipped in significant quantities and provide a special touch to bouquets.  These include aster, delphinium and hypericum. But many consumers opt for sunflowers, carnations, chrysanthemums and hydrangeas that also are cultivated south of the border.

Flowers shipped from Latin America to the U.S. are often used in ready-made bouquets that are sold primarily in supermarkets and discount retail stores and make convenient gifts for Valentine’s Day.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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