- With the great majority of cut flowers coming into Miami from Colombia and Ecuador, already tight reefer capacity is squeezed even more, Freight Waves reported.
- The concurrent arrival of South America’s fall produce harvest adds to the pressure.
- Rising spot rates also are rising for refrigerated vans, per DAT's RateView tool.
Mother’s Day might well be known by an alias: National Flower Day. Along with Valentine’s Day, it sees more flowers bought and sold than any other holiday. Few of them, however, are grown in the United States.
In fact, the amount of cut flowers grown in the U.S. since 1991 has fallen 95%, according to the Washington Post. Most of today’s fresh flowers come from two countries: Colombia and Ecuador.
The flowers are flown into the Miami International Airport on Boeing 747s and loaded onto refrigerated trucks, which are often driven by teams to get them into stores as quickly as possible.
One issue, however, is that capacity in the national reefer market is tight. Agricultural Refrigerated Truck Quarterly said that in the fourth quarter of 2017, refrigerated trucks moved 7.72 million tons of fruits and vegetables, the third highest quarter on record.
“We transport flowers for a customer,” Lou Kuchler, director of global sourcing for Penske Logistics, told Supply Chain Dive. “Freight demand during the week leading up to Mother’s Day will be heavily focused in the Miami area, as temperature controlled trailers will be transported directly into stores at a critical, time-sensitive pace, which places a lot of demand on refrigerated van equipment," he said.
Combined with the driver shortage, electronic logging device (ELD) requirements and other constraints, 3PLs are facing added pressures to get the flowers from Miami to their destinations. At the same time, South America’s fall produce harvest also is entering the country through Miami, tightening capacity even more.
“The constraint on capacity is being reflected in spot rates,” Kuchler said. “For example, the current demand leading up to the week of Mother’s Day is spiking for refrigerated van services. Per DAT’s rate review, refrigerated van spot rates from Miami to Atlanta is spiking from an average spot rate of $1.77 in March 2017 to an overage spot rate of $3.11 over the previous seven days [May 3-10].”
If mom only knew how hard it is.