Ocean Freight: A Floral Alternative?

Flowers by ocean freight? Everybody knows that cut flowers come in refrigerated cargo jets! Well, times are changing and a paradigm shift is underway in the floral industry, a change made possible by market shifts, new tech, and new handling protocols. And this is the topic of the latest Floralife article in the pages of Super Floral: “Flowers Ahoy!  An Industry Looks to the Sea.”

“A market dominated by refrigerated cargo jets for over 40 years has begun to make room for the option of ocean freight.  Technological advances and new handling protocols have made this development possible. But achieving success in this alternative realm will require new ways of thinking all along the supply chain.”

The story begins, as it does with all perishables, with the clock. A half day aboard a refrigerated jet from Bogota is ideal for flower quality. Air freight caught for flowers on and it’s been the standard since the 1970s.

Eventually, things began to change. Specifically, air freight costs began to climb, especially during peak periods. The industry began to seek alternatives, and ocean freight bobbed to the surface.

In Europe, they have been using ocean freight for 20 years, though at first it was only for the sturdiest mums and carnations.  But new care and handling protocols have allowed other, more delicate blooms to successfully travel by ocean freight.

Keys to Floral Ocean Freight Success

The key is partnering with suppliers who heed these protocols, including:

  • Careful Variety Selection
  • Proper Growing Conditions
  • Harvesting Activities
  • Flower Conditioning
  • Specifically Designed Packaging
  • Closed Transport Systems with Little Temp Fluctuation
  • Rehydration and Processing

Of course, there is MUCH more detail in the original article, including notes on sanitation, conditioning, hydration, botrytis and ethylene, and flower food. So check it out!

The article concludes that ocean freight will never replace air, saying that it’s “more evolution than revolution for the cut flower industry. More complement than competitor. But, done properly, it can be another effective tool to help move healthy product to market safely, effectively and efficiently!”

Images: Khunaspix (plane) and Hywards (boat) at FreeDigitalPhotos.net