Reporting Brian Andrews
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MIAMI (CBS4) - It’s been a flood of flowers at the Miami International Airport Cargo Facility leading up to Valentine’s Day.
“We’ve moved about 95 hundred tons of flowers into Miami in the last two weeks,” Fernando Poitevin, the Chief Operations Officer of LAN Cargo said.
LAN has a 100,000 square foot cooler facility at the airport which keeps the boxes of arriving flowers cold, before they are trucked to area distributors.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Miami ranks first among US posts of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles. In fact, they say about 90 percent of all floral imports pass through MIA.
Most are imported from South America, primarily Colombia, which 536.1 million stems or 67 percent, followed by Ecuador with 194 million stems or 23 percent.
“There probably isn’t a florist in the United States that doesnt have flowers that came through South Florida and ended in their store,” said Christine Boldt, with the floral industry group afifnet.org.
At USA Bouquets in Doral, extra workers were hired to meet the demand of bouquets needed for Valentine’s day. President Scott Hill says the industry employs roughly 7,000 people in Miami-Dade County.
“If you look at how many jobs this industry represents and how much we put back into the economy, it’s really incredible,” said Hill.
Fresca Farms runs a massive freezer warehouse just off the Palmetto Expressway where they process the flowers that arrive from their farms in South America. Most employees bundle up on the job, wearing heavy jackets, as the temperature inside is kept between 32 and 34 degrees to extend the life of the cut flowers.
“The temperature will actually make the flowers relax in the boxes,” said Fresca Farms President Mario Vicente. “It will stop them from opening. That way they will have a longer shelf life.”
Vicente said Valentine’s Day is all about the perfect rose. His company imports several different varieties. He says a good bouquet of Roses should last for up to 2 weeks, as long as you take care of them properly, and cut the stems.