Cupid’s Unsung Heroes.

The hidden logistics of the Valentine’s Day rose.

14 February. St Valentine’s Day.  A day of flowers, chocolates, cuddly toys – and a whole heap of work behind the scenes for the logistics sector to ensure that the objects of our hearts’ desires receive the perfect romantic gift on the big day itself.

It’s estimated that more than 220 million red roses are sent on Valentine’s Day – the ultimate symbol of love. But with the UK’s notoriously cold and wintry weather at this time of year, this Valentine’s Day staple is not grown here. Instead, the planning starts months in advance, with logistics professionals liaising with growers in countries as far afield as Kenya, Ecuador and Colombia to secure the best blooms at optimum prices well in advance of the actual date.

There is then the small matter of ensuring space on cargo planes, and working with the growers to ensure the flowers arrive in Britain in peak condition. After harvesting – often first thing in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day – flowers are stored at temperatures as low as 0.5 degrees celsius in refrigerated chambers with lower oxygen and higher carbon dioxide levels that essentially put the flowers “to sleep” and ensure they travel in peak condition. The process requires a specialist team of logistics experts to implement and maintain the process throughout the flights to the UK, while schedulers ensure that there are no delays to deliveries either before departure or on landing.

From the airport, immediate onward transport from temperature-controlled storage facilities then has to be coordinated to ensure that the blooms make it to wholesale flower markets, for delivery to florists, or into temperature-controlled storage facilities operated by retailers nationwide as quickly as possible. And with such delicate cargo, it is imperative that full care and attention is taken to keep the flowers in peak condition. Logistics businesses work with growers to optimise the packaging materials used to prevent crushing, breaking or other damage to such a valuable commodity.  

Once at the retailer, another arm of the logistics industry takes over, providing what’s known as “last mile delivery” to bring the selected blooms to the door of the recipient, whether they are at home or at work. Couriers will be working from first light on 14 February to ensure that Britons receive their tokens of romance on the day itself.  With only one day for deliveries to arrive, and so many different addresses to visit, accuracy in route planning and implementation of delivery is something consumers take for granted, but logistics businesses work tirelessly all year to perfect. No one wants a Valentine’s bouquet that’s wilted, late or, worst of all, dead!

So when you open your Valentine’s gift this year, spare a thought for Cupid’s unsung heroes, the logistics workers around the world who have gone the extra mile to ensure that the course of true love can run as smoothly as possible. To find out more about careers in logistics, and identify how you could become part of the romance of Valentine’s Day,  try our Find Your Future quiz.

Find Your Future Quiz

Use our personality quiz to find the logistics role for you.