Around 500 million cut Colombian flowers will have reached the U.S. market by Tuesday February 9, in order to meet with increased demand on Valentine’s Day.
A total of 30 flights have had to be scheduled daily to meet with the U.S. flower market boom.
Flights have left Bogotá’s El Dorado airport, and Rionegro close to the country’s second city of Medellín, destined for Miami where the flowers are then repacked and shipped across the country.
The flowers are shipped in boxes for freshness, containing up to 300 roses or 600 flowers depending on the variety.
According to the report ‘The history of the Colombian flower industry and its influence on the United States’, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Usda), the Colombian flower trade generates around $250 million in earnings annually from the five Colombian and U.S. cargo airlines that are dedicated to the sector.
Despite DHL no longer transporting flowers, Centurion Cargo, Avianca Cargo, LAN, UPS and Solar Cargo continue to transport fresh flowers, El Tiempo reports.
Ignacio Villegas, chief of operations at Kuehne + Nagel, one of 12 agencies within the flower sector, this year’s exports have been one of the most successful to date.
“Flights left on time, the cargo capacity met with demand and there were no delays reported in any of the processes such as customs, loading, unloading and other areas.”
Roses are red…
Jaime Rodríguez, CEO of florists Jaroma Rosas, recounts that a drop in the Colombian peso versus the dollar has meant that the firm has been able to cut prices by between 12 and 15 percent. Jaroma hopes to export around three million Valentine’s flowers, making up 15 percent of their total annual earnings.
Yet this year Colombia’s flower sector has been faced by various issues. Increasing temperatures and country-wide drought have posed problems for many large-scale producers, according to Portafolio.
“Our company has access to a water store, but we understand that to the west of the country water stores have been effected and there have been days when they couldn’t water the flowers. This affects productivity and the quality of the roses,” Rodríguez explained.
Increased snow fall across the U.S. also poses a problem for Colombian producers, with delays and airport closures feared in the worst hit areas.
Another regional contender is also in the form of Ecuador, whose rose market continues to grow on an annual basis. Thanks to its dollar-run economy, Ecuador has been able to reduce its sale prices by between 60 and 70 percent, creating panic in the flower sector.
Roses remain the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day. The delicate flowers need to be stored at around 2 degrees during shipping so that they meet with their two week shelf life.
Violets are blue…
According to Colombia’s business group representing flower growers, Asocolflores, the Valentine’s Day period represents around 12 percent of the sector’s annual exports, a total of some $140 million.
Since 2000 the value of exports has tripled within the flower market, creating some 18,000 additional jobs during the Valentine’s Day season within flower producing regions.
Despite a growth in the African flower market, Colombia still remains in a strong position. With this years Valentine’s Day rush at an end, producers can relax, until next year.
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