Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Inverpalmas:

Colombia: "Making bouquets has become one of our strengths now"

At 40 ha farm Inverpalmas, roses, carnations and spray carnations are being grown on two locations (30 ha and 10 ha), both in the Savanna Savannah of Bogota, near Colombia's capital. They've also been making bouquets on request for quite some years, but over the last years, they've started to promote it more. According to Jose Enrique Gutierrez, making bouquets has become one of their strengths now. "We can make all kinds of bouquets", he says. 

Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Sales & Marketing Services at Inverpalmas with the rose Lemonade. During the Proflora week, earlier this month, the team of visited the Inverpalmas site in Tenjo, Cundinamarca.

The US is their main market for their hand-tied bouquets and orders to make the bouquets, they use their own flowers which are carnations, spray carnations and roses. "That's the advantage of growing 3 products, we can already make different designs of bouquets." When requested, they buy fillers and greens from other farms. The bouquets are assembled in the post harvest area in several ways. 

Bouquets being made at the farm of Inverpalmas

For the more complex standing bouquets with several varieties, a special mold is being used in which each flower is put in separately and when taking it out, it is twisted and can stand on its own. 

Inverpalmas also supplies straight bunches of all varieties. The roses mainly go to the US, around 80 percent and the carnations and spray carnations mainly go to Asia and Europe, around 60 percent, and around 40 percent to the USA. 

Roses - shorter stems
Inverpalmas grows roses on 15 ha. Their main market used to be Russia, to which they supplied 80 and 90cm stems. However, when the crisis hit this country, they started to focus on different markets and saw a demand for shorter stem varieties in the US. "We decided to change the farms to become more productive. Now, we grow 50-60 cm stems that are used in bouquets and shipped as straight bunches."

Carnations - always sold out
The carnation is their fastest growing market. Several years ago, they entered two new markets and since then, they are always sold out. "Over the last 4 years, we are sending flowers to Korea and last year, the volumes have become interesting", says Guttierez. According to him, it is a new market for Colombia that mainly demands carnations from Augustus till May. "They are looking for good quality products and are willing to pay for it."

Another market that has become increasingly interesting to Inverpalmas is Poland. "We started sending the first flowers to this country 5-6 years ago. It was slow and risky, but now we have several solid clients who demand good volumes."

Carnations - new varieties
With carnations, Inverpalmas is eager to stay on top of the new varieties. "In carnations, it is difficult to see the differences in quality, therefore, we try to be different in the varieties we supply." In order to have the latest assortment as possible, they plant each variety for only two years. " Then, we decide to renew them or not. The varieties with antique colors, for example, are doing very well at the moment. We, therefore, decided to plant more of these varieties." But before a variety will be planted. It is tested first in their trial area. "In this way, we can check if the quality and color is OK."

Besides their Rainforest certification, they are also certified by Walmart in the US, which checks if we take good care of the environmental practices, the labor and quality of the product. They used to have the Orange label, but now received the Green label. "We are very proud of it." 

Future plans
Inverpalmas is growing carnations, spray and standard carnation on 40 ha for 30 years now. Over the years, they changed markets and therefore varieties. As the demand for carnations increased sharply over the last years, they will probably replace some of the old rose varieties with carnations to meet the demand. On top of that, they are working hard to see what they can do to make the ordering process faster for their buyers. "We try to use the current technologies and become more creative in the service we provide. We are currently developing a system to place orders online. 

For more information:
Jose Enrique Gutierrez

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