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ReedTMS & Floral Cold Chain Management

Feb 14, 2023 | Logistics

Flowers – from the field to your loved one. Have you ever wondered how all those roses and other Valentine’s Day flowers get to the store? In 2022, 22 percent of Americans bought fresh flowers for Valentine’s Day. Millions rush to retailers, florists and e-commerce retailers to ensure their loved ones have a special day. You can thank experts in cold chain management, providers like ReedTMS Logistics, our refrigerated truck drivers and other supply-chain workers for making this possible! 

A flower’s journey begins in the field. Once cut and cooled, the flowers travel via truck to the airport and are flown primarily into Miami and other transportation hot spots in south Florida.  The flowers must pass through customs, which generally takes anywhere from one to 24 hours. Delays related to customs are one of the challenges faced during floral season. This type of challenge must be addressed on a situational basis, as every delay is often unique.

Next, the flowers are transported to a warehouse in south Florida where they are cooled, sorted and assembled based on consignee request. The flowers are then loaded onto a refrigerated trailer and moved either as full truckload or less-than-truckload (LTL).  It is critical the flowers are kept at 35 degrees Fahrenheit at this stage of their journey to their second stateside warehouse. This secondary warehouse allows floral loads to be optimized and organized.

The next stop on our flowers’ journey is a distribution center (DC). The DC plays a paramount role in ensuring the flowers are properly organized, sorted, and staged for transport to various retailers.  Like other complex temperature-controlled commodities, being set up for success and loaded correctly are vital to ensuring on-time delivery (OTD). From the DC, the flowers are loaded onto trucks, often comprised of private fleets where they make multiple stops at various stores and merchants. These multiple stops can be another pain point for logistics providers if the flowers have not been properly sorted, organized, and loaded.

Once delivered, the flowers are staged by retailers, often at the front of stores to make buying easy for consumers. The next time you are at your favorite store or market, consider the lengthy journey that beautiful flower took to get to you.

Another important facet of floral and cold chain management is one of two things we can control in the lifecycle of a load. First, we can control how we communicate. For example, if there is a delay, it is critical the logistics providers are the entity facilitating the conversation with the client. When a client trusts a 3PL with their temperature-controlled loads, it is our responsibility to ensure communication is constant. The only other thing we can control is our carrier selection. Who we place behind the wheel of a complex, the temperature-controlled load is critically important, which is why ReedTMS Logistics considers the following criteria every time we book a third-party carrier onto a load.

  • Research the Carrier’s MC, using due diligence.
  • Qualify the Carrier & Driver(s).
  • Do they have floral experience?
  • All floral loads MUST track and adhere to check-call requirements.
  • Communication standards must be met.
  • Qualify the trailer.
  • Only 2015 or newer trailers can be used.
  • Food-grade trailers only with all required equipment, such as load-locks.
  • The chute must be fully working, in quality condition, and with no tears.
  • Trailers must arrive properly pre-cooled.

After we identify and properly vet our Carrier Partner, the next critical component is the dispatch team, and the internal constant communication maintained throughout transit and after delivery. Flowers and other complex temperature-controlled shipments require a collaborative approach, in-depth training, and high-touch treatment. So, the next time you are buying your favorite flower, consider the lengthy journey from the field to you, and all the logistics specialists working hard to make it happen. For more information on floral shipments, please reach out to our floral team at ReedTMS Logistics by emailing [email protected].