The fresh roses snapped up by shoppers on a typical wintry Valentine’s Day in the state of Alaska travel thousands of miles over four days to bloom in the aisles of Carrs-Safeway and Costco. But the teamwork between Alaska Air Cargo and Falcon Farms makes it possible for Alaska’s sweethearts to focus on the bouquets’ beauty, not the journey.
“The most important thing when you work with floral is to have temperature control all along the way,” says Cristy Herrera, Falcon Farms’ account manager for customers in Alaska and Hawaii. Herrera says Alaska Air Cargo is the company’s top choice for these far-flung destinations. “You have coolers throughout your network that allow us to keep our flowers in a temperature that’s optimal for them so that the end consumer has the absolute best experience,” she says.
Flowers are an increasingly important part of Alaska Air Cargo’s business, growing almost 50 percent so far this year over 2020. Flowers shipped out of Orlando (MCO) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Anchorage (ANC) and Honolulu (HNL) account for a significant part of this growth.
For Falcon Farms, the flowers’ journey starts at farms in Ecuador and Colombia, where the company also designs their bouquets. “We bring together all of the single varieties and mix them up and make them into something that’s ready for a vase in someone’s home,” Herrera says.
The flowers are packed in boxes and shipped to Miami (MIA), a huge hub for the international floral industry. Malcolm Montgomery, Alaska Air Cargo’s sales representative for Florida, describes the scene: “In the evening or early morning, you get freighters pouring into Miami and they’ve got nothing but flowers on board – 50, 60, 80 tons of flowers,” Montgomery says. The USDA inspects the flowers and companies like Falcon Farms sort them according to their final destination. “The boxes are all designed in a special manner so that you can open up the ends of the boxes and blow cold air through them to keep them cool. It is quite an interesting process,” he says.
Falcon Farms’ flowers destined for Alaska and Hawaii are often routed through Orlando and Fort Lauderdale for the best flight connections. In a typical week, Falcon Farms ships around 45,000 stems of roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and all kinds of other flowers to stores in Alaska; they send up to 130,000 stems each week to Hawaii.
In addition to our reliable cold chain and extensive expertise in shipping perishables, Falcon Farms relies on Alaska Air Cargo to keep multiple parts of a shipment traveling together and for updates about any changes to flight plans. “The communication is always pretty seamless, letting us know about any possible hiccup,” Herrera says.
The logistical teamwork pays off with beautiful results. “In just a few days, you’ve got the flowers from the farm into somebody’s hands,” Montgomery says. “It is a very efficient process thanks to the complete Alaska Air Cargo operation.”