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Flowers are flying this Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day, FOCUS readers! Around the world on this day of love, chocolates, roses and fluffy teddy bears are gifted as signs of love and affection, but have you ever given thought to how these gifts make their way to your nearest store?

Take flowers, for example. In early February, major flower-producing nations around the world – such as Kenya and Ecuador – harvest and air-freight additional quantities of roses to important global centres of flower distribution and directly to customers.

Emirates SkyCargo is one of the freight carriers that has daily scheduled flights to Nairobi and four weekly flights to Quito to collect flowers that are then flown to destinations across its network.

In February, though, Emirates SkyCargo increases its capacity to nine flower-dedicated flights over and above scheduled operations! With each of Emirates SkyCargo’s Boeing 777 freighter aircraft being capable of transporting up to 100 t of cargo, this translates to the carrier flying close to 900 t of roses, over and above the 4 000 t transported monthly.

However, it’s not simply a case of loading and going. The flowers need special care to remain fresh. The journey of flower exports begins on a farm where they are harvested by hand. The freshly harvested flowers are then sorted, arranged in bouquets and hand packed into boxes, which are then loaded on the aircraft. In this case the Emirates Fresh Breathe business solution handles the transportation; it is specifically set up to provide a ventilated cool-chain solution for fresh-cut flowers.

Once they land, the flowers begin their journey to market and then local stores. In order to ensure maximum freshness and shelf life, the flowers are maintained at temperatures of between two and five degrees centigrade.

In 2018, Emirates SkyCargo transported over 50 000 t of flowers across the world. Most of the flowers – over 27 000 t – originated in Kenya. This is estimated to be around 15 percent of the overall flower exports from the nation.

In January 2019, the carrier transported over 2 200 t of flowers from Nairobi. During the same time, it flew over 1 200 t of flowers from Ecuador to Amsterdam. Over 100 000 people in Ecuador, and an estimated 500 000 people in Kenya, depend on the floriculture industry for their income and livelihoods.

Now that’s spreading the love.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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