This Valentine’s Day, Americans will collectively spend more than $2 billion on flowers for their BAEs. But where are all these bouquets coming from? Now that’s the mystery.
As it turns out, 80% of the flowers sold in the US are imported from abroad. And over 90% of these blooms flow through the Miami International Airport. They come in from Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, and the Netherlands. To prepare for the influx, UPS adds “34 temperature-controlled flights to deliver the 236,000 boxes of blooms…in the two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day,” according to Cargo Marketing Manager Domingo Mendez.
Under The Scope
Once in the US, flowers are kept in refrigerated warehouses within the airport, while customs agents scan the flowers for any stowaway pests. Agents hang the bouquets upside-down and give them a solid whack to remove bugs. They’ll occasionally pull out magnifying glasses for the trickier cases. “It only takes one exotic plant pest to inflict tremendous damage on domestic agriculture, which is a trillion dollar industry,” said Christopher Maston, the customs authority’s port director for Miami. “Our agriculture specialists represent a frontline in protecting America.”
Who knew Valentine’s Day was such serious business? Usually about 1,800 pests are found, which is a relatively low number, considering the mass of flowers coming through. When the flowers are good to go, they’re split up and sent out to wholesalers, who send them to stores throughout the country. This is when your dear florist receives the goods.
The Rose Still Rules
And what’s the V-Day flower of choice? The rose, of course. Farmers around the world significantly boost their rose yields leading up to February 14th. Every resource along the supply chain, from farm workers, to trucks, to airplanes, is upped. “There’s an additional cost all along the way,” said Christine Boldt, executive VP of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida. The high demand reflects a high price–a bouquet of tall-stem roses on Valentine’s day costs on average $50.
So when you hand your date the beautiful bouquet, take a moment of silence to thank the flowers for their journey…It’s likely been a long trek.
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