Proflora 2017 Bogota.
Proflora kicked off this years event with a grand opening cerimony where eveyone gets to pat everyone else on the back and enlighten us with speeches that are always upbeat, as they should be.
For me the highlight of this ceremony was getting to meet Charlie Weston who is considered to be the godfather of the Colombian floriculture industry. As an American Charlie saw the potential in the lush lands and high altitude of the Bogota sabana back in the early 70’s putting Colombia on the floral map.
Where are all the buyers? Was a sentiment I heard from a few exhibitors as I traveled around this beautiful show floor. I am not sure why there were so few new buyers here but I can imagine that the business disruption caused by the Hurricanes made some buyers stay close to their supply chain issues. With that said, I heard very positive comments from many exhibitors regarding the quality and quantity of business contacts made. As normal at these shows, the reaction often depends on who you spoke to last. Personally I give this show very high marks in all categories.
Everyone was concerned about the lack of ample cargo space to the service the markets. The hurricanes made a mess of things and FEMA sucked Flower carrying cargo planes out of the market, making importers scramble to secure their flowers on the limited space available. The results are higher freight rates that will not go away anytime soon. Flowers from Medellin are the most affected and as a result many growers are having to truck the flowers from Medellin to Bogota for transport.
In fact I will go as far to say that industry need to be prepared for higher rates that will persist for some time. Flowers are not the most profitable cargo for carriers since they are light and bulky therefore, carriers will always seek heavy dense freight when and where available.
I was comparing notes with the some logistic friends about the number of cargo airlines that have come and gone over the last 20 years. Arca, Florida West, Challenge, LAC, AeroCondor, Millonair, and others which illustrates the difficulty in making money hauling flowers
Our press crew was able to visit two farms on our first day. Plazoletta Bazzani and Yasa
Plazoletta Bazzani is one of the oldest farms here in Bogota and I think a quote from their website says it best.
“We are a flower farm located in the outskirts of Bogota that specializes is growing and selling fillers and focal flowers.
We care deeply about the communities we work with, that’s why close to 80% of our collaborators are single mothers that take advantage of the day care center we’ve built for their convenience and their children’s well being.
The environment and our surroundings are a big concern to us, which is why we have a reforestation program on the lands adjacent to our farms where we reuse and recycle vegetable wastes and water product of our daily operations.”
They are the farm that created the “Perfection” brand of Alstromeria which is simply the best of the best of its kind. A small group of growers offer this brand and if you demand the best then ask for it by name.
The next farm visit was to Yasa where they decided to do things the hard way by successfully growing Chrysanthemums in Bogota. While there are some others growing Poms here, most Chrysanthemum production long ago moved to Medellin where the climate is more suitable for this product.
Growing in Bogota which is located at an altitude of 8,610 vs Medellin at 5,000 allows the flowers to grow longer and thus produce the highest quality.
Back to Proflora for the show. As always this show is impressive in size and the quality of the displays. This year had 30% more floor space then 2015 with large isles and ample room to navigate the many booths.
The Donkey named Mr. Carter, resident of the Flores Ayura booth, was the hit of the show with his huge ears and donkey hee-haw calls echoing through the halls.
From a flower standpoint the best thing I saw, that was new and yet seemed out of place, were the beautiful Proteas offered by Rosamina.
We were able to visit this farm and again it is very different then most others, in that these products are grown outdoors.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch and were treated to a concert by a group of young disadvantaged girls who, due to the generosity of many Asocolflores members, have been able to learn to play an instrument, social skills, and English.
I have to admit that I shed a tear after listening to one of the girls tell her story. Well done!
As always this show was concluded by a huge Colombian Party held at the famous Andres carne de res. This place defies description and I will only say that it is well worth a visit if you are in Bogota. However, I will not be showing any images from this place, since what happens there, stays there.
Random thoughts: I would say that the airfreight issue is not going to go away and as a result more interest in vacuum cooling and flowers via sea container will be explored.
While I see the industry healthy in many ways the traditional distribution chain is leaking like a sieve, where everyone is trying to get closer to the end consumer.
A wise man once told me that one thing is certain; there will always be producers and consumers, the business that happens in between those is up for grabs and is constantly changing. The internet, credit cards smart phones and overnight delivery sparked a fire that continues to burn bight with uncertainty.
Finally, I was told by many in attendance that my website and reporting are valuable.
There is no better compliment for my efforts. Thank you!
PS: My video/image review will follow soon stay tuned to flowersandcent.com