2016 marked another record year for bilateral trade between Colombia and the US in the area of flower exports. Over half a billion flowers were shipped to North America from Colombia for the Valentine’s day holiday, last Sunday.
According to ProColombia, Colombia’s export promotion agency, in 2015, Colombia exported approximately $1 Billion USD in flowers to the US, where 12% of sales were driven by Valentine’s Day. In 2016 sales are expected to be spurred by Colombia’s weak currency, making exports from the country up to 39% less expensive. Over the last 4 years, the flower export trade has shown a steady 4% growth.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) over 26,000 floral retailers and wholesalers in the United States source 60% of their products from Colombia.
“95% of Colombia’s production is exported to international markets such as the US, Russia, Japan and UK while 5% of the production is used for domestic consumption. The flower industry in Colombia has a strong social component contributing to more than 130,000 direct employments from which 25% are female workers. In addition, flower farms are also committed to a sustainable environment executing social responsible activities for all workers; as well as to guarantee environmentally friendly fresh cut flowers,” said Maria Claudia Lacouture, ProColombia President.
Over 80% of Colombia’s flower exports are purchased by the United States. Other major markets are Japan, Russia, US, and Canada. According to Colombia’s flagship airline, Avianca, it handled Valentine’s Day flower shipments on 155 flights, including charters to Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. Shipments on regularly scheduled flights went to destinations including The Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, China, Toronto, Aruba, Curaçao, San Salvador, Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Seoul, Peking, Taiwan, Shanghai and Brisbane.
Avianca reported transporting 9,620 tons of flowers for Valentine’s Day, counting floral shipments between January 18 and February 7. During the 2016 season, the airline recorded the highest volume of cargo to Miami, mobilizing 821 tons of flowers in one single day.
Among the flowers being transported were roses and carnations, grown and sent from Bogota, while dahlias, hydrangeas and chrysanthemums where exported from Medellin. Colombia produces and exports over 50 species of flowers.
Avianca Cargo’s Vice President, Victor Mejia, commented: “It is gratifying to see the results of this effort. The successful 2016 Valentine’s Day season confirms the high levels of professionalism of those of us that operate this export chain.”