Miami in Full Bloom for Valentine's Day
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And on this Valentine's Day, consumers are expected to buy some 200 million roses. At an average price of $50 a dozen, these expressions of love will total more than $800 million. Most flowers sold in this country come from overseas.
NPR's Greg Allen visited the place where many of these flowers first enter the U.S. market.
GREG ALLEN: In the week leading up to February 14th, things get very busy here at Federal Express's Miami gateway hub. Mike Connor(ph) is the manager.
Mr. MIKE CONNOR (Manager, Miami Gateway Hub, Federal Express): For this particular location, our volume increases about 50 percent from the normal time of year.
ALLEN: Now the flowers you're getting in here are a lot of roses, other flowers, maybe. It's hard to tell because they're inside of boxes here. Where are they coming from?
Mr. CONNOR: Flowers come from all over the world. Seventy-five percent come from Colombia. They come from Holland. They come from Ecuador and also Mexico. Sixty to 70 percent of the flowers that come into the U.S. come through Miami. So we're the link between the international market and our domestic market to make sure that these flowers get to the customers on time.
ALLEN: Box after box of flowers are coming down the conveyor belt here. Some are going to retailers, but many of the flowers are being shipped directly to consumers.
Mr. CONNOR: What happens is when the flowers come off these trucks, they go down our slide and we sort them by location. We have flowers going to Memphis. We have flowers going to Dallas. We have flowers going to Newark and various hubs. So we sort those flowers based on the hub destination. They'll get resorted in those locations going to particular cities and the stations that they go to, and then the delivery couriers will scan them on a particular route and take them to an address.
ALLEN: How long does it take for them to come from Latin America and then get to the consumer? Any idea?
Mr. CONNOR: The entire process from the time they're actually cut until the time they get to the customer is within a week - within seven days.
ALLEN: Connor says there's another rush that begins the day after Valentine's Day: a smaller flurry when retailers around the country all hurry to restock their depleted supplies of flowers.
Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.
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