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The Role of Trucking in Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a one of the busiest times of the year for the floral, candy and transportation industries. Approximately 250 million roses are grown and an estimated 40 million boxes of chocolates are shipped each year - that's 58 million pounds of chocolate! Most shoppers wouldn't care to think about what it takes to get such an abundance of product in the stores ready in time for the holiday. They just want to know that the shelves are full when they do go shopping. So what role does trucking play in all of this?



CHOCOLATE TRANSPORTATION

Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get, especially if that box was transported under less than perfect conditions. Anything with cocoa in it absorbs odors easily, therefore chocolates have to be stored and transported under clean and odor-free conditions (clean and odorless warehouse, reefer trailer, etc).

  • Chocolate is shipped on pallets in refrigerated trucks and stored at a consistent temperature to ensure it maintains it's quality and arrives in perfect condition.

  • The ideal storage and transport temperatures are 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • If it gets too warm, the chocolate will melt, nuts will go rotten and cocoa butter will turn greasy.

  • If it gets too cold, and then it's unloaded from the truck in a warmer environment, the condensation will cause the sugar to rise to the surface. This creates what is called sugar bloom, or chocolate bloom.

  • Sugar bloom doesn't affect the taste or smell of the chocolate, but it will have a different appearance, which is probably not suitable if you're planning on giving it as a gift.



FLOWER TRANSPORTATION

The peak shipping weeks for flowers are in the seven weeks leading up to February 14th and both floral wholesalers and large retailers expect these perishables to arrive in perfect condition. The floral industry is supplied mainly by growers located outside of the US. As a matter of fact, flowers are a top export from Latin America. So how do these flowers maintain their quality and freshness throughout such a long journey?

  • The cold chain supply is one of the most important factors to consider when shipping flowers because they require specific temperatures and airflow to stay smelling fresh and looking beautiful.

  • Flowers are harvested overseas and shipped to the US by use of refrigerated cargo planes or ships carrying refrigerated containers.

  • After arriving in the US, the flowers are then sent through customs clearance and strict agriculture and pest inspections. If pests or plant diseases are found, shipments maybe be treated and released, re-exported, or destroyed.

  • Once they are processed and cleared at the ports, they are now ready for refrigerated transportation to distributors.

  • Temperate monitoring is KEY throughout the entire journey to ensure flowers arrive fresh and durable! Refrigerated trucks play a vital role in this.



LOADING & UNLOADING

Trucks with reefer trailers are used to transport fresh cut flowers and chocolates. During the loading and unloading process, temperatures can get too warm or too cold. However, a good driver should understand how to monitor the temperature of the trailer and do everything they can to minimize these fluctuations in temperature.


Did you know that most floral loads are driver unload and some places don't even have docks!? This makes these loads quite unpopular because they are time-sensitive, multi-stop, and you have to unload each box from the trailer one-by-one. So when you're out this week buying flowers, chocolate or anything for that matter, remember that the transportation industry plays a big role in getting products to the shelves!



FUN FACTS:

  • Consumers are expected to spend an estimated $26 billion on gifts in 2023 - the second-highest year on record.

  • The most popular gift on Valentine’s Day is flowers! Approximately 250 million roses are grown in preparation for this special day each year.

  • An estimated 40 million boxes of chocolates are shipped each year - that's 58 million pounds of chocolate.

  • Fresh cut flowers in Europe arrive from North Africa, mainly Kenya, which is the largest producer of roses in the world.

  • Fresh-cut flowers in North America come mostly from South America and the Netherlands.

  • Columbia and Ecuador are leading producers of flowers imported into the US because these countries have the perfect climates that allow for optimal floral results for distributors.

  • Miami International Airport is the main port for the jumbo jet air freighters carrying flowers in from South America.

  • Not only is Miami is an ideal location to handle both domestic air-to-truck and international air-to-air transfers, but they also have a large perishables-handling infrastructure in place.

  • An average of 500 truckloads per day head north out of Miami during the peak weeks to deliver these flowers across the US.



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