Family owned and operated local South Australian business, Hilltop Fresh Flowers specialises in both the wholesale and retail of fresh cut flowers. Since its inception in 2012, the company has developed a reputation for its high quality fresh flowers, which it delivers direct to customers, over ninety supermarkets and another ten fruit shops, located across metropolitan and regional areas of South Australia.

As customer demand for fresh flowers continues to expand, the timeline between picking and having these delivered to their final destination or into store has shortened, requiring Hilltop Fresh Flowers to establish a highly efficient supply chain.

Speaking about Hilltop Fresh Flowers operations, Director, Ross Trimboli said, “Our supply chain is crucial to consistently meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, through the delivery of the best quality fresh flowers to the market.

“We source our flowers from our own farm located in Kersbrook, and from a variety of other local growers. In addition, via our agent at Footscray, we have access to hundreds of hectares of open flowers for our customers.”

Once the flowers are sourced from Footscray, they are then placed into CHEP’s Foldable Bins for transporting across to the Hilltop Fresh Flowers Kersbrook site. The flowers are then picked by their staff and personally arranged, ready for distribution to retailers and other final customers.

The whole process from flowers being picked through to final delivery is usually completed within forty eight hours. Temperature control along with keeping the flowers moist (i.e. in water at five degrees) is paramount to ensure they maintain freshness throughout the supply chain. Because the foldable bins in this system are manufactured from food grade plastic, they are impervious to moisture and can be flat packed for easy storage. The bins assist with product storage, temperature control and handling flowers.

The business also utilises the wooden pallets from CHEP to facilitate the movement of produce between farms, pack houses and supermarkets.

“Our team takes a lot of pride in the flowers we deliver to our customers. We see our flowers as a projection of our professionalism. To ensure we consistently deliver the high quality flowers our customers have come to expect from our team, we rely on CHEP’s foldable bins”, Mr Trimboli said.

Hilltop Fresh Flowers decided to transition from cardboard cartons to foldable bins over 12 months ago. Talking about this transition, Mr Trimboli said, “This has been one of the best decisions we’ve made. By using the foldable bins from CHEP, we’ve received several major benefits relating to supply chain efficiencies, sustainability, quality control and reducing costs.

“Previously, we would spend up to five dollars per carton and would only get a quarter of the flowers that we can now fit into the bins from the cartons. It would also take our staff up to four times longer to pack the flowers into cartons compared to what we can do now with the bins.”

The cardboard cartons also caused Hilltop Fresh Flowers a range of problems including an inability to cope with wet produce, becoming brittle in cool rooms and easily damaged by forklifts. Moving from cartons to bins, Mr Trimboli explained that they have reduced damages by 80% and therefore minimised wastage. Utilising these bins have also been beneficial for the company’s sustainability efforts, as they are able to reuse these, as opposed to the cartons which were disposed of after use.

The foldable bins also assist Hilltop Fresh Flowers with storage and transportation. This is evident as the company has received transport load efficiencies, as the bins can be stacked three high, which maximises pallet spaces available on trucks.

The foldable bins are easily assembled for product loading and when empty, folds down to reduce space for storage and transportation. Its three-into-one fold down ratio provides Hilltop Fresh Flowers with savings in freight relocation costs. In addition, these bins assist Mr Trimboli and his team with segregating flower varieties within the warehouse.

Speaking about CHEP’s relationship with Hilltop Fresh Flowers, Business Relationship Manager – Fresh, Alan Brunato said, “We’ve partnered with Hilltop Fresh Flowers for about 12 months and look forward to growing our businesses together into the future. During our partnership, we’ve been able to provide a reliable bin system that maximises the freshness of their flowers and ensures optimum performance within the supply chain.”

Mr Trimboli said, “We engage in regular discussions with CHEP to ensure we are continuously improving and meeting our customer’s demand. CHEP works with our team on forecasting and with their strong network have consistently delivered reliable bins for our flowers. They have assisted our business achieve operational efficiencies in the movement of fresh flowers from farm to stores.”

For more information:
13 CHEP (13 2437)