“Unexpectedly positive” Raymond Oosterveld of Jarja Floral calls the reactions of growers to their new color changing sensors that indicate the freshness of flowers. They showcased it for the first time at the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim (CA), USA, last October.
The Floral Merchandising Aid, or FMA, helps to determine when floral products need to be discounted for quick sale. A partly aluminum sensor being put on the sleeves indicates the vase life of the product. The color changes from gray (full vase life) to yellow (50% vase life).
The Oosterveld family at PMA Fresh Summit 2019 in Anaheim (CA), USA.
From concept to reality
“From the greenhouse, we saw that problems mostly arose from cold chain and not merchandising properly, as the quality of the flower was usually good. Ineffective inventory management leads to increased waste and unhappy costumers. Ultimately margins decrease as does revenue. So, we thought we needed to develop something that indicates the freshness of the flower”, Raymond explains. “We found that Evigence Sensors already had the technique of freshness sensors for breads, meats, fruits and vegetables. We thought it might work for flowers as well. So we got in touch with them.”
The FMA will be in stores in the Midwest of the United States, starting January 1st with a large retailer on the 10 stem tulips for a one million bunch pilot. "We have developed training material for store associates and short training videos are available for education and sales."
Aluminum eating glue
The sensor itself is designed together with a retailer. In one of its renditions, it is a yellow tulip with a transparent window so that one can see the aluminum to which the sticker is married to. The aluminum vanishes over the days and the yellow background will be visible. “The trick is that the glue eats the aluminum. So, when the days are over, the whole tulip turns yellow. It is adjustable, so if some flower bunch has a longer shelf life, we give it a thicker aluminum layer. Then, it will take more days for the glue to eat the aluminum.” The 'eating' or oxidation process is temperature-dependent: lower temp, slower reaction, higher temp, faster reaction. The sensor for the tulip in the pictures has a 4-day activation length at 15 C or 60 F.
Desktop Model for use for up to 1000 sensors per day, larger equipment has been developed for tens of thousands of sensors per hour. To marry the aluminum and the sticker, no manual work is needed. With a machine, the aluminum and sticker can be married automatically.
Raymond emphasizes that FMA is not intended as a date code replacement. “It helps to better merchandise the products. When the sensor is almost yellow, one can see that the flowers will be in discount soon. When it shows full color, half of the vase life has been reached. Employees know to reduce the price and merchandise the product differently. The consumers understand they are purchasing a product with a reduced vase life. 3 or 4 days versus 7 days when bought at its freshest point.”