On their “grand travel adventure,” fresh-cut flowers leave the farm and begin their complex journey via air, sea and land to the wholesale marketplace and then again on to retail stores and other distribution points. Soon, consumers are soaking up the beauty and fragrance of the blooms at their homes and offices.
But any journey has the potential for unexpected twists and turns. “Fresh flowers are both delicate and perishable, so all details of the handling and shipping process – particularly timing and temperature control – are critical,” says Alex Paredes, Prime Fresh Handling’s general manager-East Coast. “Any logistical hiccups encountered along the journey to market must be tackled fast and with great care.”
Highly experienced in international perishables logistics, Fresh Handling (PFH) specializes in handling and arranging temperature-controlled transport for large quantities of bulk fresh-cut flowers and plants from point A to point B, regardless of distance. “We strive for an ‘anticipatory approach,’” Paredes emphasizes.
He continues: “Our perishables expertise and supply chain knowledge are invaluable in assisting our wholesale customers, retail florists, corporate clients, and other customers in the live-plant industry overcome any unexpected logistical challenges that crop up along the way.”
Protecting the Posies
Certainly, timing is everything with fresh flowers. The stopwatch starts ticking with the snip of a stem at the farm. Roses, for example, have an average cut-life of 21 days but with proper care and handling at every stage of their journey to market, the beautiful blooms still can provide 10 to 14 days of vase-life in a consumer’s home or office.
Timing-wise, flowers from farms in Colombia and Ecuador can reach North American retailers in as little as four days, although it could take a week or so to reach other global destinations. But the finely honed process of temperature-controlled transportation, handling, and storage, makes longer supply chains possible.
To assure fresh flowers both arrive on time and in attractive-for-sale condition, PFH offers:
- Competitive Pricing
- Vacuum cooling capabilities
- Global network of cold storage facilities
- Refrigerated transport
- Online tracking and tracing
- End-to-end document visibility
- CFS facilities
- Sorting, re-packing, bar-coding, & labeling
- Local and international distribution
“Across our regional and global network of transportation channels, we use refrigerated trucks, cargo containers, and aircraft as well as refrigerated warehousing to maintain the freshness and appearance of all flower and plant products,” says Christina Moscoso, West Coast general manager for PFH. “Sophisticated cooling systems keep our customers’ flowers and plants at the ideal temperature and humidity level.”
In addition, the company ensures secure processing and packaging via specialized boxes, buckets, and water containers. “That varies by each floral species, and we pay careful attention to water and temperature requirements,” she adds. For example, water gladiolus must be shipped upright and with water support, while gypsophila, roses and many other floral species are safely transported in corrugated cartons with good ventilation.
Detailing the Journey
How does the trip itself flow? Generally, shipments of freshly cut flowers are delivered directly by the farms to the airline’s airport facilities, go through a security process, and then are taken to cooled facilities where they are palletized according to the aircraft’s configuration. In Colombia, a sizable exporter of fresh flowers, PFH also has invested in a highly advanced ColdMax vacuum cooler at its BOG handling facility.
That means that all shipments with “end holes or closeable flaps” go through a “pre-cooling” process that vacuums out warm air trapped in the boxes. (It’s also great for vegetables and herbs.) “Not all logistics providers offer this vacuum process, which can extend the vase life of flowers by up to 1.5 extra days,” notes Paredes. “It’s a big plus for our floral industry customers.”
Once the pre-cooling is complete, the flowers are taken to the Bogota ramp, nestled comfortably in an aircraft’s temperature-controlled cargo space, and flown to gateways such as Miami or Amsterdam. Then some flowers are offloaded into refrigerated trucks for transport to PFH cold warehouse at the airport. Following another pre-cooling process, they’re loaded onto refrigerated trucks for the trip to our floral industry customers.
Alternatively, some fresh-flower shipments instead “connect” to another temperature-cooled flight to other destinations across the country or across the globe, such as the U.K., France, Russia, or the Mideast. Both Miami and Amsterdam see huge spikes in the volume of fresh flowers transported between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
With today’s supply chain issues, delays and unexpected blips in the shipping process can occur. In addition, flowers also can lose their edge due to temperature mismanagement. “But that’s not PFH,” says Moscoso. “We’re definitely the customer’s strongest link along the perishables supply chain.”
So, whatever customers need to handle and ship, from soup to nuts – to fresh cut flowers, Moscoso emphasizes that “it’s a smart idea to make PFH the first stop when looking for a highly reliable and seasoned firm to manage all your international air cargo logistics needs. We’re ready to assist and answer all your questions.”
Whether it’s a box, a pallet, or a companywide logistics operation, PFH is skilled in achieving safe on-time delivery of 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 American, 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