- The doubling up of Valentine’s Day and the run-up to Chinese New Year within the same week are expected to stress air cargo demand, Air Cargo World reported. Record shipping levels of such perishables as flowers, plants, chocolates and gifts are also expected.
- UPS will have its hands full with more than 8 million pounds of flowers, or a total of 88 million blossoms, to deliver to destinations throughout the United States, which equals about 64 completely filled Boeing 767 aircraft.
- The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend nearly $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $18.2 billion in 2017. At least 10% of that amount, or roughly $2 billion, will be spent on flowers.
Special conditions are required when mass delivery of perishables are on the agenda.
The news that Valentine's Day is especially challenging should come as no surprise to those within the logistics industry. Up to a year of forecasting and planning for the holiday is common, as is the rush to transport product to waiting shelves. Bouquets likely come in via air freight, then immediately move to a truck before reaching the local grocery store, where displays occur within 48 hours or less.
Though demand for romantic gifts strikes almost every area of retail, it hits the supply chain hardest.
“Shippers and supply chain operators with exposure to the flower industry see some of the biggest demand spikes of any industry," Drew McElroy, CEO and co-founder of Transfix, a supply chain technology platform, told Supply Chain Dive. "This creates great opportunity for sales and margin capture, but is also very difficult to execute, and the price of failure is very high."
Valentine's Day is such a supply chain stressor that efforts to include maritime cold chains are being considered as possible trans-modal participants in the holiday supply chain. Flowers are one of the most difficult items to transport given their delicacy, which adds pressure to shippers and carriers to ensure all products are safely transported via the right infrastructure in the correct conditions.
"Flowers are sensitive to temperature, light, jostling, and are generally quite valuable," McElroy said. "Carriers need to be aware of these factors and be prepared with proper reefers and other equipment. It’s not unusual for shippers to lease third party warehouse spaces and pre-purchase trucking capacity to ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently.”