Alstroemeria grower Daniel Velez de Monchaux, Sausuque:

"Colombia: "The Perfection brand boosts the demand"

Why do local alstroemerias always receive higher prices than Colombian alstroemerias in Canada? This question motivated four Colombian alstroemeria growers to investigate new ways to enhance the quality of their flowers. They took a closer look at the production and post harvest processes at Canadian alstroemeria growers and translated these habits into a method that suits their processes. This resulted in the brand called Perfection which boosted the demand for their flowers. "Since we introduced the brand, we are always oversold," says Daniel Velez de Monchaux of Sausuque, a Colombian alstroemeria grower who established the Perfection brand together with three other Colombian alstroemeria growers.


Catalina Guacaneme of Perfection and Daniel Velez de Monchaux at the Proflora 2015 in Bogota, Colombia.

Perfection

The Perfection brand was set up by four Colombian alstroemeria growers, who formed the Perfection group, with the aim to enhance the quality and shelf life of their alstroemerias. "Perfection is not only a brand, it is unique way of producing handling and packaging flowers that is being carried out the same way by all the Perfection group members," says Velez. Over the years, Colombian growers of statices, roses and snapdragons also joined this group as they saw the positive results in the alstroemeria quality and sales. Currently, the Perfection group consists of eight Colombian growers. For the Perfection brand, the growers only use the premium quality flowers. "Only perfect flowers are good enough for this brand. Therefore, we only use the best flowers from our beds, which is like 15 percent," says Velez. The cultivation process of these selected flowers differs from the regular flowers and when leaving the farm, these flowers are in full blossom and are labeled as Perfection. "As we are a group, the Perfection flowers from all farms look the same, are packed the same and are priced the same."

Reason creation perfection
The main reason for establishing the Perfection originated from the question: Why do local alstroemerias always receive higher prices than Colombian alstroemerias in Canada? "In order to answer this question, we went to Canada to learn about the Canadian alstroemerias and the florist's and wholesaler’s demands. When talking with florists, many said that they prefer Canadian alstroemerias over the Colombian ones as the Canadian ones can be used immediately; they open within one day while they have to wait two or three days till the Colombian ones open. Besides that, the quality of the Canadian alstroemerias was also higher as the leaves didn't turn yellow as fast as the Colombian ones. They found out that these differences originated from the fact that the Canadian astroemerias are more mature when they are harvested. So, in order to achieve the same quality, we had to take a closer look at our cultivation process and we adjusted it," says Velez.



Difference to regular production and post harvest process
So, how does the Perfection method differs from the regular production and post harvest processes then? "When we start cultivating the alstroemerias, we have a bed of flowers. From this bed, only the best flowers are being selected," he says. These selected flowers receive a different cultivation process. "Every week, a third party -FlorControl- audits a strict quality control on the flowers. Besides that, the alstroemerias take advantage of a maximum exposure to basic growth criteria such as sun, nutrients and water as they stay around five days longer in the greenhouse. So, just like the Canadian alstroemerias, but unlike the regular Colombian alstroemerias, the Perfection flowers are being harvested when the buds are open," says Velez. This also asks for a different way of packaging. "In Canada, the alstroemerias are being transported in buckets, but as we have to deal with limited air shipment space we had to find another solution. Our technicians came up with the idea, to net them individually. It is more labour intensive, but in this way the quality can be kept high and the foliage and mature buds are fully protected. Besides that, it also increases the amount of stems in a box by 50 percent," says Velez.

Price less sensitive
Next to this innovative and efficient packaging solution, producing, Perfection flowers has more advantages. As the quality is high, the prices are also higher. "Of course, producing Perfection flowers is more labour intensive, but at the bottom line, the yield is higher," says Velez. Besides that, the prices also seem to be less sensitive. "Interestingly, with the Russian crisis, the flower prices decreased drastically, except for the Perfection flowers. Even in these difficult times, they were willing to pay a little extra for quality," says Velez. Next to Russia, the flowers are also shipped to Canada, Japan, Europe and Australia. "In these countries, and especially in Europe, the demand for the Perfection flowers is increasing rapidly. We are always oversold."



Joining the programm
The Perfection group is looking for new members. "As we are always oversold, we are looking for more companies to join in," says Velez. And just like other groups or clubs, also for the Perfection group companies need to comply with some requirements. "The growers need to be Asocolflores members, they have to prove that they undergo best practices and they have to be 100% legal with breeders," says Velez. Besides that, also a royalty is charged to maintain the program and the growers need to sign a confidential agreement. "All growers share all information in the group. Therefore, we want all this info to stay in the group," says Velez.

For more information
Suasuque
E-mail: daniel@suasuque.com
www.suasuque.com

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