High freight costs have become a serious issue for Kenyan flower growers. With the corona pandemic crisis, the price per kilo in some cases has doubled, and today a packaging solution can be more valuable than ever. The lightweight packaging concept designed by Cargolite, for example, can now, with the current air freight rates, save up to 5 USD per carton on regular flights and even more than that on passenger/cargo flights, which currently come in place of the cargo planes. On top of that, with its proprietary plastic frames, crushing does not occur anymore. Now, with less handling of the cartons from the farms and better air circulation between the cartons, the flowers arrive to their destination with improved quality and offer a longer shelf life.
Amnon Zamir, Dorit Kowarsky and John Kowarksy at the IFTF 2019 in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands.
Idea behind concept: airfreight cost goes down, quality goes up
Airfreight costs have been rising for several years now, this has resulted in attempts to improve pack rates and weights by filling as much as possible in overpacked cartons, usually compromising the quality of the flowers. Kowarsky thought of a concept that could offer a solution, and with Amnon Zamir, they developed the Cargolite packaging concept. In 2016 Cargolite introduced this new and innovative packaging concept and after successful trials at Oserian, it was officially launched in 2017. It quickly awoke the interest of other growers, importers and logistic companies. Slowly but steadily it got implemented at several farms in Kenya and is currently in use by 20 farms and major clients.
Kenyan Airways loaded up with perishable cargo in their new Dreamliner (Source picture: Twitter page Aeroskippah)
Airfreight costs have increased due to COVID-19
The Corona crisis affected the flower industry in many ways but more significantly by the decrease in the number of flights, explains Kowarsky. "Many cargo planes were diverted to the Far East to carry medical equipment to Europe resulting in less flights from Kenya to European markets. The sharp drop in the number of cargo and passenger flights, created even a shortage for the limited amount of flowers and other perishable products that could be exported to Europe. Passenger planes were adapted to fly (on board) with flowers and other perishable products from Kenya, and in some cases the boxes were loaded onto the passenger seats! As a result of the lack of space, costs of air freight rates increased considerably and have increased over the last weeks, from around 1.80 USD per kilo costs before the crisis to 2.50 USD per kilo today on regular flights but is still higher on passenger flights which can reach as high as 9-12 USD for long distance destinations such as Australia and the Far East”.
Martin Kabaka, Cargolite’s Sales Technical Manager in Kenya, holding the packaging materials of a regular "jumbo box" (right side of the picture) and Cargolite’s (left). A difference of nearly 2 kg!
Saving up to 2 kg per carton
When designing Cargolite, one of the objectives was to decrease the weight of the packaging materials. This goal was attained with the introduction of the frames which enabled using lighter materials for the carton itself (3 ply instead of 5), and since the frames kept the cartons from crushing, dispensing of the SFKs which were now obsolete. By this, Cargolite cartons are able to save up to 2kg per carton. "For the AWB payer, with the current air freight rates, there could be a saving of up to 5 USD per carton", adds Kowarsky, "even though it does not cost them anymore per stem as the regular boxes because more flowers can fit in our cartons”.
"Skidding at the farm”
Cargolite cartons for flowers also introduced the concept of "skidding at the farm”. "By building the skid at the farm with 15 cartons, the handling is reduced to a minimum, no overpacking is possible nor necessary, so building the air pallets is easy and they are uniform and arrive at destination in perfect condition with flowers in much better quality than with the regular cartons."
Another important asset of the Cargolite cartons is in respect of sustainability. "The frames are made from 100% high grade recycled raw materials collected in Kenya and they can be collected by the unpackers for further recycling (..and generate extra income!). Cargolite packaging for flowers, with all these properties, is the only packaging for cut flowers on the market today that reduces the carbon footprint to 18% less than the regular cartons."
A pallet made up out of Cargolite cartons with the cargolite plastic frames.
So, in order to enable new growers and buyers to adopt Cargolite and enjoy its benefits, specially in these challenging times, Cargolite offers an introductory rebate of 25% on the plastic frames used for the first 8 shipments (minimum of one skid, no maximum limit, ship as much as you like). This promotion will be valid for a period of 3 months for exports from Kenya only, commencing from the 15th of May, 2020 .
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