The South American country supplying Mother’s Day flowers

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Every May, millions of flowers make their way to mums across the US for Mother’s Day, and the majority come from one nation. So, where do these flowers come from?

The answer, by in large, is Colombia, which exports more than $2bn worth of cut flowers each year, making it the second-largest flower producer in the world, after the Netherlands. Roughly 75% of Colombia’s flowers (or $1.64bn) end up in the United States, so chances are that the stems in your recent Mother’s Day bouquets originated in this South American country.

A recent article in the American Journal of Transportation, noted that in just 21 days, more than 400 LATAM Airlines flights carrying 24,000 tonnes of flowers (roughly 552 million flower stems), took off from Colombia and neighboring Ecuador.

Colombia’s modern floral export industry can trace its roots back to the Cold War. Prior to 1960s, most fresh-cut flowers in the US came from California, but they were expensive. Then in 1961, US President John F Kennedy created the $100bn Alliance for Progress initiative, which aimed to combat the threat of communism by enhancing economic cooperation between the US and Latin America. Colombia became a key focus of the administration, and one of the program’s first tasks was to help Colombia develop its agricultural industry.


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