This year Americans are expected to spend nearly $20 billion this year on their loved ones, with more than $2 billion plus on flowers alone. This voyage to get the flowers to the states starts more than 3,000 miles away in Colombia and Ecuador, those countries exports the most flowers to the states.
An hour west of Bogota, Columbia along the Andes Mountains is one of the largest flower farms in Colombia. At Passion Growers, workers busily harvest and process 30 million flowers for Valentine's Day for two weeks, and it's a 24-hour operation.During these two weeks before Valentine's Day the farm employees more than 1,000 workers.
The Valentine's Day production crop is approximately 15 percent of Passion Growers whole year's production in a span of two week period. The massive greenhouses filled with roses, employees diligently inspect down to the petal before being cut and bundled, then pulled across the farm, 5,000 at a time in order to be processed from shipment.
The roses need to be kept cold during transport from the farm to the states, this starts the second they leave the farm on trucks to the airport. Once at Bogota's airport where all the boxes from Passion Growers and other regional growers are loaded and ready to be distributed in the states. Pallets are dry packed and stacked in Boeing 767's One load on a 767 is a staggering 50 tons of flowers, approximately 3,000 boxes. That is roughly 300,000 roses worth $1 million plus.
LAN Cargo flies about a third of the world's flowers for Valentine's Day. During the busy to weeks of Valentine's Day preparation Lan doubles its flights from Bogota. Most of all the flights head to Miami International Airport, the hub for flowers coming from South America.
Ninety-one of percent all flowers imported into the U.S., or about 22 million a day, come through Miami International Airport. The process of unloading the flowers needs to be done quickly to avoid the Miami heat. The airlines and distributors have this process down to roughly 5 minutes from the 767 to warehouse. Once they are warehouse where the temperature is 40 degrees the flowers are inspected by Federal Agents.
The agents are looking for any signs of disease on the leaves or insects, this is a difficult process because the amount of leaves on the flowers so the agents shake and hit them. Any sings of disease or insects can hold an entire shipment from a particular farm. After the agents have inspected its off to all the wholesalers and retailers around the country.