The guilty little high-carbon secrets of those lovely, innocent, romantic Valentine roses
Valentine’s Day is traditionally the day, in the US, UK and much of Europe (banned in Saudi Arabia) when flowers, especially red roses, are given. Many of these are airfreighted thousands of miles. This year it is reported that IAG Cargo carried nearly 800 tons of flowers for Valentine’s Day. The most common varieties carried by IAG are roses and carnations coming from Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya, Costa Rica, Guatemala and South Africa. The main destinations for these flowers are Madrid and London, followed by other Spanish cities, along with Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam, and Munich. Mothers’ Day is another peak day, with other saints days in European countries. LAN Cargo and its affiliates said they transport over 15 million bouquets of flowers all over the world during the month before 14th February. They say between January 20 and February 9, around 200 LAN Cargo flights took off from Colombia, and Ecuador with an average of 2,100 tonnes of flowers daily. The main destinations of these flights are the USA and the Netherlands with the majority via Miami. Lufthansa Cargo said it flew around 1,000 tonnes of roses to Frankfurt this year, transporting up to 90 tonnes of roses on a single flight. The numbers are up on 2013. IATA says air freighting flowers is more “sustainable” than growing them in heated greenhouses in cold countries.
IATA’s proud boast about its high carbon flowers for lovers
IAG Cargo transports nearly 800 tons of flowers for St. Valentine’s Day
Feb 12 2013 (American Journal of Transportation)
IAG Cargo will carry nearly 800 tons of flowers in the run up to St. Valentine’s Day.
The most common variety of flowers carried by IAG Cargo are roses and carnations coming from Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya, Costa Rica, Guatemala and South Africa. The main destinations for these flowers are Madrid and London, followed by other Spanish cities such as Seville, Malaga, and Barcelona, along with Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam, and Munich.
IAG Cargo controls the temperatures of delicate flower shipments at all times, to ensure that they arrive in optimum condition. The cargo terminals of both London-Heathrow and Madrid-Barajas airports are equipped with refrigerated and humidity-controlled ground transport and storage facilities.
While flowers are carried by IAG Cargo throughout the year, flower shipments peak in the run-up to All Saint’s Day (1 November), St Valentine’s Day (14 February) and Mother’s Day in the UK (13 March). Other high traffic dates for flower shipments include St George’s Day, honouring Barcelona’s patron saint on 23 April, and the day of the Virgin of the Pillar on 12 October, when an image of Saragossa’s patron is adorned with tens of thousands of flowers.
IATA quote this 2007 study to say their air freighted flowers are lower carbon than those grown in Europe
This indicates that buying roses, or other flowers out of season in North America or Europe, when they cannot be grown using natural warmth and sunlight, is not environmentally efficient. A lot of gas and electricity is needed.
Transporting flowers by the highest carbon form of transport available – air freight – is not environmentally efficient either. “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
Carriers fly flowers for Valentine’s Day scramble
February 13, 2014 (Air Cargo World)
LAN Cargo transports more than 15 million bouquets of flowers during the rush leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Life is rosy, especially for an airline in the weeks before Valentine’s Day.
Airlines are flying more flowers around the world for the holiday.
LAN Cargo and its affiliates will transport more than 15 million bouquets of flowers all over the world during the four-week flower rush that leads up to Valentine’s Day – the peak season for flower exports.
The carrier moves 32 percent and 40 percent of flowers produced in Colombia and Ecuador, respectively, at this time of year, representing around 9,400 tonnes.
Between January 20 and February 9, around 200 LAN Cargo flights took off from Bogota and Medellin, Colombia, and Quito, Ecuador, tripling the average shipments with an average of 2,100 tonnes of flowers shipped daily. The main destinations of these flights are the U.S. and the Netherlands with the majority via Miami. Some flowers are also distributed to Oceania via Sydney.
“We are very pleased to be an important part of such a special day for many people,” Cristian Ureta, CEO cargo unit LATAM Airlines Group, emphasized. “There are two key dates in the transport of flowers and one of them is Valentine’s Day, when we carry more than 15 million bouquets to the world and, this year, we hope to transport 6 percent more than in 2013.”
The main exporters of flowers in Latin America are Colombia and Ecuador. For both countries, floriculture is a fundamental part of the economies, representing their top non-traditional agricultural exports. The main varieties transported are red roses (more than 60 percent, tripling in demand during Valentine’s Day), carnations, dahlias and chrysanthemums.
Lufthansa Cargo is flying around 1,000 tonnes of roses to Frankfurt this year, transporting up to 90 tonnes of roses on a single flight. The amount transported will weigh about the same as 1,000 small cars.
Lufthansa connects Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya with its Frankfurt hub many times per week, upping the number of flights in the weeks before Valentine’s Day.
Preliminary figures from IAG Cargo show that flower volumes from Colombia and Ecuador have increased by about 25 percent compared to 2013’s peak season, reflecting blossoming consumer confidence in Europe.
The increase in the flowers carried from Ecuador is also related to the direct operations from Quito to IAG Cargo’s hub in Madrid that started in 2013. This is supported by a 3 percent increase in flowers being transhipped through IAG Cargo’s Heathrow hub in the first week of February compared to the same period in 2013.
“While flower shipments have been relatively stable during the economic downturn, the initial data for our LATAM cargo flows show an increase on last year,” David Shepherd, global head of commercial at IAG Cargo, said. “Flowers are one of the most resilient products we fly, and since the economic downturn we have actually seen flower volumes grow, not decrease. We now boast some of the best floral facilities in the world to help get Valentine’s flowers to market looking as fresh as the day they were picked.”
To ensure that flowers from Latin America arrive in as fresh a condition as possible, IAG Cargo has been investing in its Constant Fresh infrastructure in Madrid airport. The facilities now operate at a steady 2°C instead of 8°C, which had previously been the lowest temperature available.
IAG Cargo is looking to expand its flower-handling business in Madrid, targeting buyers in France, the Netherlands and other European centers.
A sea of flowers for all of Europe
Lufthansa Cargo is putting on special flights to bring 1,000 tonnes of roses to Germany for Valentine’s Day
Millions of people will be able to express their love with red roses on Valentine’s Day thanks to fast transport via air freight. These long-stemmed flowers are especially delicate and have to be transported quickly and carefully to Europe from where they are cultivated in Africa and South America.
Lufthansa Cargo is filling its freighters with flowers these days to ensure that millions of red roses will be available on time for Valentine’s Day on 14 February. In total, Europe’s leading cargo airline will fly around 1,000 tonnes of roses from warmer climes to Frankfurt this year. The amount transported will weigh around the same as 1,000 small cars.
The logistical process involved in transporting up to 90 tonnes of roses on a single flight is actually more environmentally-friendly than growing the roses in Germany. According to a study conducted by Cranfield University in the UK, this would produce more CO2 as each individual flower needs artificial irrigation and an additional heat supply to grow.
Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador, whose capital, Quito, is also called the “City of Eternal Spring”, are the biggest exporters of roses. Lufthansa Cargo connects all of these flower-growing countries with the Frankfurt hub many times a week. To ensure the exceptionally high demand on Valentine’s Day is catered for, special flights are arranged in addition to the scheduled connections. Lufthansa Cargo has developed the special Fresh/td product specifically for the transportation of perishable goods such as flowers and food.
The airline’s sophisticated logistics, special refrigeration systems in the cargo hold and, not least, the expertise of the producers in the exporting countries ensure that the roses are fresh on arrival at their destinations.
Following harvesting, the flowers are taken as fast as possible from the plantation for packaging and then from there directly to aircraft. This ensures they still retain all their splendour on landing at Frankfurt Airport. Transport onwards to destinations all across Europe is coordinated from there.
There is also an article on the ethics of imported flowers:
The flower industry by the Ethical Trading Initiative.
Be my eco-valentine!
- A dozen roses? It’s a bit cliché. They also come with a big carbon footprint. How about a seed packet of native flowers, a tray of herbs for the kitchen.
- How about dinner at a local restaurant or a cozy candlelight meal with locally-sourced ingredients