Valentine's Day is around the corner. Many flowers are still arriving at Miami in the US where they continue their way in trucks to destinations all over country. Everything seems to go smoothly, but the run-up to this holiday was rather stressful. One of the main challenges Miami airport had to deal with was the government shutdown, Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF) tells us. Fortunately, everything turned out OK and the amount of flowers that has arrived from Colombia and Ecuador is on track. "The amount of flowers is similar or slightly higher."
The majority of the flowers arriving at Miami airport come from Colombia and Ecuador and in the weeks before such a major flower holiday, imports increase drastically and more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors are needed to help with the additional volumes. However, then, the government shutdown came "The government shutdown in the US was one of the main challenges faced this Valentine's Season. It didn't allow the 13 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors to come to Miami Airport to help with the additional volume that comes in for the holiday", says Boldt.
Fortunately, the problem was solved on time and in quite a special way. "The CBP inspectors in Miami stepped up and agreed to work whatever hours were necessary to provide service to the flower imports and make sure that trade was not stopped. On top of that, the CBP Chiefs provided other opportunities to make sure that there were no delays with the inspections. We really appreciate everything that they did."
Number of stems - same or slightly higher
According to Boldt, the amount of flowers that has arrived from Colombia and Ecuador is on track for where everything is supposed to be. "As far as the total number of stems that are arriving for the holiday we are trending toward having the same volume or slightly higher than last year."
Less flowers came by plane this year - more have gone by sea. "The airlines have reduced the number of flights that are available for flower shipments, so some of the volume has shifted to sea containers. The industry has been working on this shift for over a year now and we had some volume that arrived in the US by sea container."
Polar vortex an issue?
Flowers are still entering the US and trucks are leaving Miami to supply the wholesalers, retail florists and supermarkets. But what about the Vortex cold, will it affect this final phase? According to Bolt, the cold in the US only becomes an issue if there are snow storms bad enough from now until the 14th of February that the trucks cannot get from Miami to them throughout the US or if the wholesalers cannot get to the retailers or if the retailers cannot make deliveries to the consumers. This week is the key for the second part of these delivery issues."
Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF)