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UPS gears up for Valentine's Day

Forget Cupid. The modern Valentine’s Day depends on a global logistics network and advanced technology to get flowers, lobsters, sweets, and other gifts to businesses and consumers around the world, all by February 14th.

UPS (NYSE: UPS) goes into high gear in the weeks preceding Valentine’s as it transports an estimated 95 million flowers from Latin America and adds about 130 additional flight segments to accommodate the growing surge in Valentine’s Day celebrants. Last-minute lovebirds can ship as late as February 13th using UPS Next Day Air to have gifts arrive for Valentine’s Day.

According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, US consumers are expected to spend $18.6 billion dollars on this 2013 holiday. Outside of UPS’s traditional holiday peak season, Valentine’s Day is one of the logistics company’s heaviest single delivery days of the year.

Flowers are one of the most gifted items for Valentine’s Day. UPS estimates about 95 million flowers will move through its logistics network in the weeks before February 14th. These flowers will travel along the cold chain, flying first on UPS temperature-controlled aircraft from locations in Latin America (primarily Ecuador and Colombia) to UPS’s Miami FL air hub. More than 80% of all flower imports come through Miami, where UPS is the largest air cargo carrier.

There, the 3,000 tons of flowers will move through UPS’s 27,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse, where flowers will be inspected and sorted for travel to their destination. Flowers are highly perishable and must be transported quickly. UPS planners work closely with customers and government inspectors so that the entire journey—from farms in Latin America, through customs, to the importer in the United States—can be completed quickly, in as little as 24 hours.

For many, Valentine’s would not be complete without a romantic dinner and some elegant sweets. That’s why the UPS network also will move temperature-sensitive lobster dinners from companies like Maine-based Lobster Gram, and sweet treats from businesses like Fairytale Brownies. For businesses that ship perishables, UPS experts are available to provide guidance on packaging to help these shipments arrive fresh and intact.

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