Flowers are either shipped wet pack or dry pack. Dry pack has several advantages over wet pack, but stores often do not choose this option, as it is traditionally more labor and budget intensive. In order to let stores benefit from the savings from receiving in dry pack, Paul Harris developed a cutter system called StemPro cutters about four years ago. Currently, customers all across North America are using StemPro cutters, and they are looking to expand markets to Europe with its appreciation for flowers and busy floral markets.
Andrew Harris and Paul Harris of Stempro Systems presenting the cutting machine at the PMA 2018
Advantage dry pack
With wet pack, flowers are flown from where they are grown from their production location to processing locations in Miami, Europe and elsewhere around the world, where they are cut and placed in containers of water and boxed for regional distribution. “The moment the flowers are recut and placed in water, the lifespan of the flower is ticking down”, says Harris. “With dry pack, flowers are transported to the store, untouched, often straight from the grower. This increases the quality and shelf life of the flowers. A big advantage of dry pack is that you can ship three times as many flowers in a truck.” However, a major disadvantage of dry pack is that the flowers need to be cut at the point of sale. “It is labor and budget intensive and for this reason a less interesting option for stores.”
With the advantages and disadvantages in mind, the StemPro has been designed; it makes cutting at the store level easier. Regarding labor, “it increases the processing efficiency at least thirty percent and it cuts a 25-stem rose bouquet effortlessly. In turn, this leads to less injuries compared to cutting manually.” Besides, it guarantees the safety of the employees: the cutter only activates when the correct code is typed in the keypad. Regarding the budget, Harris says: “At first, it is a substantial investment, but the return on investment (ROI) has been shown to be between 8 to 10 months.”
Better shelf life
A major advantage of shipping dry pack is the increased shelf life; sometimes up to three days longer. However, if the stems aren’t cut correctly, this advantage vanishes. So, the machine is designed so that it doesn’t crush and doesn’t infect the stems. “A fresh, clean cut makes the flowers last longer. The machine sanitizes the cutting blade between every cut, to eliminate cross-contamination. In turn, the shelf life is longer.”