With Valentine's Day just days away, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are working hard to make sure imported flowers are pest and disease free.
"CBP agriculture specialists are working hard every day preventing potentially harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S.," Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso director of field operations, said in a release. "Valentine's Day week is always one of the busiest periods of the year for CBP agriculture specialists."
Valentine's Day is the No. 1 holiday for most florists, according to the Association of Floral Importers of Florida.
The U.S. imported $1.31 billion worth of fresh-cut flowers during 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.
Flowers are imported into the U.S. via temperature-controlled flights, refrigerated trucks and, increasingly, aboard ships in cold storage containers.
Miami International Airport ranks No. 1 among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flowers, processing 91% of the total imports in 2018 — approximately 1.3 billion stems.
Colombia was the No. 1 exporter and accounted for $789.64 million in imported fresh-cut flowers in 2019, followed by Ecuador at $266.49 million, The Netherlands at $77.92 million, Canada at $62.94 million and Mexico at $31.86 million.
The Laredo, Texas, port of entry processed more than 44.4 million cut flower stems during fiscal year 2019 and is the eighth-largest field location by volume for cut flower imports nationwide.