Chances Are, Her Flowers Came from Colombia

When asked who’s the world’s top producer or flowers, most people say the Dutch – and they’re right. The Netherlands produces well over half the world’s flowers. So, who’s next? We need to head down to South America for that answer – to Colombia and Ecuador, where Prime Fresh Handling (PFH) has long specialized in bulk fresh flower shipping and handling.

Here, PFH is a proven brand of service for flower producers, wholesalers, service retail florists, corporate clients, and other customers in the floral and live-plant industry. Which is why our presence in South America is unrivaled.

So, let’s look first at our operation in Bogota, Colombia, is one of our busiest station operations across our entire global network. And for good measure, so is our station at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. What makes the Colombian market so important for us and our customers all around the world?

Fresh cut flowers, especially long-stem roses, is big business in. In fact, 2021 was a record year for the floral industry here. In total, $17 million and 300,000 tons of flowers were exported from Bogota. That was an increase of 22 percent compared with 2020 and 17 percent compared to 2019, which, up until that point, was a typical year.

 

Fresh Flowers from Columbia

With a mission to finding that “sweet spot” for growing, a horticultural study in 1967 determined that the savanna near Colombia’s capital was an ideal place to grow flowers to sell in the United States. The savanna is a high plain fanning out from local foothills, and it’s simultaneously close to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Those circumstances create a pleasant climate with little temperature variation and consistent light, about 12 hours per day year-round – ideal for a crop that must always be available to meet worldwide demand.

 

Bogota Flowers: It’s Not Just the Weather

In 1969, soon after that study was published, a Columbian-based company called Floramérica opened its doors and helped turn flower growing into a big business. Within five years of Floramérica’s debut, at least 10 more flower-growing companies were operating on the savanna, exporting some $16 million in cut flowers to the U.S.

By 1991 the World Bank reported the industry was “a textbook story of how a market economy works.” Today, by most measures, the country is the world’s second-largest exporter of cut flowers, after the Netherlands, shipping more than $1 billion in blooms. Bogota flowers now command about 70 percent of the U.S. market; if you buy a bouquet in a supermarket, big-box store, or airport kiosk, it probably came from the Bogotá savanna.

 

And It’s Not Just Capitalism

But the for-profit sector isn’t the only factor contributing to Columbia’s huge success in floral exports. The country’s popularity as a place to grow is also attributed to the efforts of the Non-Profit Colombian association of flower exporters, named Asocolflores, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023 – coinciding with the 16th edition of their Proflora trade show. The show continues to grow in popularity with each passing year.

A good part of the success when exporting fresh flowers from Colombia depends on the integrity of the cold supply chain, and since the inception of Asocolflores, they have been working on fostering smooth logistics. In 2006 they introduced the “Petal Plan” in which special attention is given to the mobility of cargo, as well as preventing illegal actions to guarantee a seamless flow. Thanks to this plan, this newly emerged industry is paying big dividends to all parties involved, from the growers and in-country forwarders, all the way to the handlers at the port of export.

 

A Rosie Economy, Despite the Pandemic

Prior to the sudden and devastating impact of the pandemic on the global economy, Colombia was on a solid path of growth – expecting to top the list of “30 countries preferred for investment by foreigners” published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Relying on its rich natural resources, and other important solid sectors like fresh flowers and agriculture, Colombia was anticipating continued prosperity through 2020 and well beyond – a trend that observers remain confident will continue.

Key to the promise of national recovery is Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport, the largest airport in Latin America in terms of cargo traffic. As a major hub, it offers vast connectivity.

 

Making It Happen

Launched in 2001, Prime Fresh Handling’s parent company initially began service to represent several air cargo carriers involved in transporting flowers between Quito, Columbia, and Miami. The operation soon further expanded in Colombia, as well as to New York, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam – and now we’re a major worldwide shipper with agents across the globe.

We use industry leading technology such as vacuum cooling, sorting, repackaging, barcoding, labeling, and temperature monitoring to guarantee consistent, safe, and fresh delivery of Bogota flowers – and a wide range of other perishable goods to their final destination.

“We just came out of a huge flower shipping rush during the weeks preceding Mother’s Day,” says Cristina Moscoso, Prime Fresh Handling’s General Manager, West Coast. “Chances are, if your customers bought flowers over the past few weeks, it was for their mothers.”

And with a knowing wink she adds, “There’s also a big chance we shipped them for you out of our Bogota hub.” That’s because PFH’s dedicated staff at here exports 45 million kilograms of roses and other fresh flowers from Colombia   around the world annually!

 

Global Services 

Whether it’s a box, a pallet, or a companywide logistics operation, Prime Fresh Handling (PFH) is skilled in achieving safe on-time delivery of time- and temperature-sensitive material and products between any point of origin and destination around the globe.

In fact, PFH is also known as a global leader in perishables transportation of fresh produce, fish, cut flowers, and plants. With state-of-the-art facilities in Europe, South America, and across North America, PFH leverages industry-leading technologies such as vacuum cooling, sorting, re-packing, bar coding, labeling, and temperature monitoring to guarantee a consistent, safe, and fresh delivery.

 

Contact Prime Fresh Handling

Alex Paredes, PFH-East Coast: 516-837-9777 or via email at infopfh@prime-fresh.com

Cristina Moscoso, PFH-West Coast: 323-328-8650 or via email at infopfh@prime-fresh.com

Also visit www.prime-fresh.com

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