Mario Vicente, Fresca Farms:

Valentine's challenge: Getting product out of Ecuador on time

Getting the Valentine's roses out of Ecuador has been challenging this year. The infrastructure at the airports at Medellin and Quito were hit with high volumes, which resulted in major delays. "We had days where we were 48 to 72 hours behind", says Mario Vicente of Fresca Farms, a US distributor with farms in Colombia and Ecuador.

Airports hit by the volume
Fresca Farms started to ship out their Valentine's flowers from South America around the 23rd of January and had the biggest orders last Sunday and Monday. They were not the only ones with a peak in volumes, which was visible at the airports. "In Bogota, everything went smoother, but in Ecuador not. The airports could not handle the amount of boxes as there seemed to be fewer planes. Some growers were even asked to come back the next day. This resulted in delays of 48 to 72 hours."

Timing
Timing seems to be a key word regarding the preparations of this year's Valentine's Day. Roses, particularly in the southern area of Quito, were four to five days late, because of the cold days they've had. In Colombia, the number of stems were lower this year, also because of the weather and probably the lower amount of sunlight. "All in all, this resulted in more 'timing' challenges because we had to push back the orders several days."

Good quality
Fortunately, the quality of this year's crop is, according to Vicente, very good. "When the production is late, the flowers will have less time in storage at the farm and are therefore fresher."

Good hopes for Valentine's Day
Fresca Farms supplies grower bunches and bouquets all over the US to wholesalers and mass markets. Vicente has good hopes for this year's holiday. "I think it will be a good holiday, everyone is optimistic, particularly about the fact that it falls on a Wednesday this year. Historically speaking, sales are higher on this day. On top of that, the results of the polls done by the retail sector were positive, and in the mass market we saw an increase in units purchased", he says.

Even with these positive expectations, the weather in the US is another, very important factor. "In the North we always worry about too much snow on the ground. Right now, fortunately, the weather is projected to be nice throughout the country."

Fresca Farms
Mario Vicente
Email: mario@frescafarms.com
www.frescafarms.com

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