Every year, millions of roses are gifted worldwide on Valentine’s Day resulting in a spike in demand for flowers in early February. To meet this requirement, major flower producing nations around the world including Kenya and Ecuador harvest and air-freight additional quantities of roses to important global centres of flower distribution such as the Aalsmeer market in the Netherlands and directly to customers around the world.
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, operates daily scheduled freighter flights to Nairobi and four weekly freighters to Quito around the year to uplift flowers that are then flown to destinations across its network.
However, in order to meet the additional demand for transporting flowers during this season, Emirates SkyCargo will be operating a total of nine freighter flights dedicated for flowers over and above scheduled operations. With each of Emirates SkyCargo’s Boeing 777 freighter aircraft being capable of transporting up to 100 tonnes of cargo, this translates into the carrier flying close to 900 tonnes of roses over and above the around 4000 tonnes transported monthly.
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, operates daily scheduled freighter flights to Nairobi
Emirates SkyCargo has also notched a number of historic firsts this year. The air cargo carrier operated its first direct freighter flight carrying flowers from Nairobi directly to Sydney and from Quito directly to Los Angeles. This is in keeping with the trend where flower farms supply directly to end customers in global markets in addition to supplying to the flower auction houses.
One million extra flowers
UPS is also gearing up its global logistics of love network to deliver an estimated 89 million flowers in time for Valentine’s Day.
The projection, an increase of one million from the number of flowers delivered in 2018, means about nine million pounds of blooms will crisscross the globe in time for Cupid’s big day. To ensure these precious flowers arrive at peak freshness, UPS shepherds the shipments from colorful growing fields in Latin America through the Miami International Airport, where UPS is one of the largest air cargo carriers, to final recipients in less than two days. UPS has added 50 extra flights during this period to handle what is expected to be more than 517,000 bloom-filled boxes.
Keeping flowers fresh
The journey of flower exports begins on a farm where they are harvested by hand. The freshly harvested flowers are then sorted, arranged in bouquets and hand packed into boxes, which are then loaded on the aircraft. In order to ensure maximum freshness and shelf life, the flowers are maintained between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade.
Roses being loaded in Emirates SkyCargo freighter in Kenya
Emirates SkyCargo has designed a specialised three-tiered portfolio of solutions - Emirates Fresh, Emirates Fresh Active and Emirates Fresh Breathe - for air-freighting different kinds of perishable cargo including food items and flowers. Emirates Fresh Breathe provides ventilated cool chain solutions for fresh cut flowers.
UPS’s state-of-the-art network ensures that flowers arrive in pristine condition. Temperature-controlled aircraft and trucks carefully transport the precious blooms from fields in countries like Ecuador and Colombia to the United States. Teams then meet the shipments at the Miami UPS facilities and rush them to an enormous 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.