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David Quesada, Inverpalmas:

"Colombia: "It wasn't a bad year at all"

Hurricane Irma has made 2017 a challenging year for South American growers and US importers. However, when looking back at the entire year and comparing it with 2016, several growers still see an overall growth. Colombian rose, carnation and mini carnation grower David Quesada of Inverpalmas, for example, was also suffering the aftermath of the hurricane, but has grown in Russia and Europe.

David Quesada at the FlowersExpo in Moscow, Russia.

Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma paid a punishing visit to Florida on Sunday September 10, 2017. Fortunately, the importers in this region recovered quickly and were back on track soon. However, the biggest issue was the airlines, as they did not start up the same schedule. It resulted in not enough space in the airplane to get the flowers from South America to Miami. On top of that, the fuel rates increased, which created an additional cost to flying. 

The whole situation put a lot of pressure on the growers and importers, but fortunately several managed to find solutions. "It was not easy but we were able to find options to ship the flowers. We moved orders to ship a day or two earlier, our logistics department worked with the cargo agencies and also tried to make reservations a day or two in advance in order to get the space for our customers", says Quesada. 

Increase in sales and market share 
Even with the issues, they were able to grow in other markets. They increased their market share in Russia, the rest of Europe and we see opportunities to grow even further in these markets. "Our goal for this year is to grow 7% and we are very close to it and the month has not ended yet. 7% may not sound like a huge number, but we prefer to be consistent and go step by step. For us, it is like building a wall, we lay one brick at a time and we do it the best way we can, after sometime we have a wall, or in other words, a long term relationship with our customers." 

They grow roses, carnations and mini carnations in a 40ha greenhouse in Bogota, Colombia.

Next to growing in Russia and Europe, they see great potential in China and South Korea. "Both China and South Korea have a strong economy at this time and as a strong economy, they seem to be good markets to develop a flower buying behavior." 

Always challenges
"All in all 2017 was a better year for us, although 2016 was not bad at all. Every year has its own challenges and as a grower, we are dependent on a lot of factors - last year, for example, we had strange weather that affected the production and therefore we are always quite vulnerable. However, if we want to compete, we need to learn how to deal with it and overcome those situations. The key is not to come up saying that you have a problem but a solution for it", concludes Quesada.

For more information:
David Quesada
Email: [email protected]