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    Christine Boldt, AFIF: “Amount of flowers is similar or slightly higher”
    US (FL): Importers on track for Valentine’s Day
    Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Many flowers are still arriving at Miami in the US where they continue their way in trucks to destinations all over country. Everything seems to go smoothly, but the run-up to this holiday was rather stressful. One of the main challenges Miami airport had to deal with was the government shutdown, Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF) tells us. Fortunately, everything turned out OK and the amount of flowers that has arrived from Colombia and Ecuador is on track. “The amount of flowers is similar or slightly higher.”

    Christine BoldtGovernment shutdown
    The majority of the flowers arriving at Miami airport come from Colombia and Ecuador and in the weeks before such a major flower holiday, imports increase drastically and more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors are needed to help with the additional volumes. However, then, the government shutdown came “The government shutdown in the US was one of the main challenges faced this Valentine’s Season. It didn’t allow the 13 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors to come to Miami Airport to help with the additional volume that comes in for the holiday”, says Boldt.

    Fortunately, the problem was solved on time and in quite a special way. “The CBP inspectors in Miami stepped up and agreed to work whatever hours were necessary to provide service to the flower imports and make sure that trade was not stopped. On top of that, the CBP Chiefs provided other opportunities to make sure that there were no delays with the inspections. We really appreciate everything that they did.”

    Number of stems – same or slightly higher
    According to Boldt, the amount of flowers that has arrived from Colombia and Ecuador is on track for where everything is supposed to be. “As far as the total number of stems that are arriving for the holiday we are trending toward having the same volume or slightly higher than last year.”

    Reduced flights
    Less flowers came by plane this year – more have gone by sea. “The airlines have reduced the number of flights that are available for flower shipments, so some of the volume has shifted to sea containers. The industry has been working on this shift for over a year now and we had some volume that arrived in the US by sea container.”

    Polar vortex an issue?
    Flowers are still entering the US and trucks are leaving Miami to supply the wholesalers, retail florists and supermarkets. But what about the Vortex cold, will it affect this final phase? According to Bolt, the cold in the US only becomes an issue if there are snow storms bad enough from now until the 14th of February that the trucks cannot get from Miami to them throughout the US or if the wholesalers cannot get to the retailers or if the retailers cannot make deliveries to the consumers. This week is the key for the second part of these delivery issues.”

    For more information
    Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF)
    Christine Boldt

    source: Floraldaily


    AvatarMauricio Gleiser

    The questions remain:

    -How is the amount of US dollars doing?

    -Is it growing at the “similar or slightly higher rate(as stems/MT)”?
    -Is the market share, among gifts items, growing any?(as compared to about 50% in 1990 and 37% in 2000).

    Many people in the industry know the answers yet refuse the solutions:

    1-higher value must be perceived by consumers, before demand in volumes and US dollar increase.
    2-holidays are the best opportunities to obtain that objective,yet in the past have served for exactly the opposite.
    3-logistics, cold chain and infraestructure,are in the core of the problem
    4-improvements must be generalized,for the whole industry to benefit, since “brands”do not reach consumers:”flowers are flowers”.

    The air logistics problems,mainly out of MDE, brought a new opportunity to the industry by giving a chance to the maritime transportation.

    Many importers and growers tried it during the past year.
    Some failed while others succeeded,at different rates.

    Reasonably,everybody was looking for reduced transportation costs and solve scarcity of shipping spaces. Just a few of them also looked for improvement in quality issues(mainly those trading with-very prone to botrytis-hydrangeas).

    A new and bigger risk for frustration came on stage.

    Being this a low cost oriented industry, among those who tried (or are considering the maritime option) and only looked for ways to reduce costs (led by “shambolism”),some of them did not realize that loading a reefer is not just a matter of piling the boxes to fill up the containers, as much as possible, in just any place(even a parking lot!). Many of them got burnt.

    On the other hand,we have proven that maritime can not only reduce costs (in fact, generate profits when going closer to the final destinations) but more than that, can eliminate damages and improve value TO CONSUMERS ON HOLIDAYS, to a never-seen-before level.

    The difference between above extremes, that many of those people did not consider, is that the BEST REFRIGERATED CONTAINERS( or cold rooms) DO NOT REMOVE FREE MOISTURE.

    Therefore, even at 31F (if one dares to go there ), BOTRYTIS coming from the farms is STILL ACTIVE and will develop as long as moisture is present.

    Only way to prevent that fungal activity is timely using vacuum cooling.
    Anyhow, we wish everybody a good Valentine´s


    That you for posting that Mauricio. We did hear that transport issues out of Medellin were not so good.

    Vacuum cooing and containers are a good marriage.

    AvatarMauricio Gleiser

    Thanks Williee,yes ,that will prove to be an excellent marriage.

    I am afraid that MDE will pose problems for a good while.

    Reconstruction of cargo terminal has been very slow, not yet completed and still has time ahead (lets say 6-12 months). Basically,area of cold rooms would grow but no so much in quantity of accesses.

    One major “problem” of MDE is the atomization of farms.There are several hundred very small Hydrangea farms and a corresponding amount of trucks, meaning the need to consolidate for export. This is mostly done in small cottages alongside roads close to the growing areas.

    Still, a small consolidation(200 qb) can use some ten or more traders (comercializadoras). Therefore, the absurd lines of trucks.

    Airlines are unable to build physical consolidation(on a reduced number of jet pallets)at origin. Instead, all boxes from different growers,importers and awb´s are mixed on each and every pallet. Upon arrival into MIA, airlines have to break down all pallets and waste significant time to reunite consolidations.

    Our vision to try “solve” these many issues took us to set up a new consolidation center OUT of the airport,but just 6 minutes away from it.
    We can receive through 3 doors at a time, x ray, consolidate by awb, store at 36F, vacuum cool,load 200-600 qb in a refrigerated truck and deliver in one single lot at airport. The whole lot would fly on 1,2,3 jet pallets,all cool and ready to be delivered immediatey in MIA or loaded in a container.

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