MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This Valentine's Day, UPS is in the business of love at Miami International Airport.
Known for shipping parcels, UPS is ramping up its smart global "lovegistics" network to deliver an estimated 88 million flowers. The company will handle more than 8 million pounds of blooms for U.S. consumers, enough to fill 64 wide-body 767s, on a very tight deadline.
To ensure flowers are delivered at the peak of freshness, UPS transports the shipments from colorful growing fields in Latin American countries through Miami International Airport to the final recipient in less than two days.
A lot of planning goes into this process.
"It starts all the way at the farm where the flowers are picked and processed we ship in them in refrigerated trailers from the farm to airport in country," said UPS Air Cargo Marketing Manager Frank Diaz.
UPS took CBS4 News through the massive operation on Monday showing a cargo load of mostly roses arriving on a plane from Colombia.
"Projected to move about 88 million flowers, that's a lot of flowers, that's a lot of flowers," said Diaz.
"We completely loaded this plane with flowers I mean it was filled top to bottom front to back," said Pilot Tamara Zapai. "Thousand pounds and we do that every day."
The flowers, called stems, are unloaded and go straight to a 27,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse cooler the size of about five basketball courts on MIA property. From there, they pass through customs to undergo inspection.
"This is the main reason of our business," explained Galo Sanchez, Vice President of a flower company based in Colombia. They will ship 100 million individual flowers, mostly, in just 14 days leading up to the Valentine's Day holiday. It's a lot of roses.
"Probably represents 45-percent, together with Mother's Day, 45-percent of our revenue," added Sanchez.
It's all part of what it takes to make sure romance arrives on time.
"We move at the speed of love at first sight here at UPS," said Diaz.
According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers will spend an estimated $2 billion on flowers and more than $19 billion on gifts for Valentine's Day this year.
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