Karli Nelson, Elite Bouquet:

"Upcoming challenges for the floral industry centered on transportation"

IFE interviews Karli Nelson and the Elite Bouquet team on insights, challenges and changes to the current state of the floral industry.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge for 2018/2019?
The big challenges for the floral industry in 2018/2019 are centered on transportation. Freight costs have increased while space availability has decreased on flights to the U.S. from South America. Here in the U.S., trucking rates have also increased due to driver shortages and recently enforced ELD regulations. Foreseeing these challenges, Elite has been testing alternate modes of transportation including sea containers from South America and domestic rail for the past few years with great success. We are constantly seeking out the most efficient modes of transportation to ensure our customers are buying the freshest product in the market.

What part of the floral industry motivates you?
The floral industry is constantly changing and that ever changing landscape motivates us to continuously innovate how we grow, how we navigate the supply chain, and how we support our customers. Our ultimate goal is to help increase floral consumption in the United States and our ability to work closely with the retail buyers to create effective and profitable programs is what keeps us moving that goal forward every year.

How do you stay fresh and relevant within the industry?
We have an amazing partnership with the rose breeder Rosen Tantau, they represent approximately 50% of the world rose market. Because of this partnership, we are able to test and grow all of their new varieties before any other grower. We are able to be first-to-market on the newest and most innovative rose varieties. Additionally, our position as a vertically integrated company allows us the platform to innovate and stay ahead of trends in the industry.

What are you looking to get out of exhibiting at IFE?
IFE is a great way to connect with our valued customers, preview new products and test innovative concepts. We’re also able to showcase our creative displays and designs, which hopefully helps inspire retailers in their own floral departments.

What type of new products will you be showcasing at IFE this year?
We are excited to show the new varieties and products we’ve been growing, along with some DIY ideas for consumers, unique bouquet designs and out of the box display ideas. Stop by booths 5269/5271 to check it out.

What do you predict to be the biggest changes in the industry over the next 3-5 years?
We believe a ‘closer to home’ approach to the distribution of flowers in one of the biggest changes on the horizon. As the difficulties with transportation, both in costs and availability, continue to rise, the need for regional support and distribution becomes more and more important to ensure the profitability of all our customers throughout the United States. Elite is always looking to be a solution center for its customers and we continue to grow our regional presence across the U.S.

Source: International Floriculture Expo (Meaghan Strickland)

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