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The COVID-pivot that saved/diversified and expanded a Florida floral company with a conscience

Just in time for the holiday floral season, Manatee Fresh, the direct importer, national distributor, and local grower of ethically sourced cut potted plants, cut flowers and greenery, has announced its recent acquisition and distribution enhancements.

Manatee Fresh was relaunched from the ashes of the COVID pandemic through a management buyout of floral operations along the gulf coast of Florida. Due to the impact of the pandemic on a variety of industries, floral sales had declined almost 80%. Manatee Fresh faced two options: either close or boldly pivot its business model into new channels and operating locations. Opting for the latter, since late spring, the company has expanded its wholesale and retail distribution, recently adding daily service to Central Florida’s Orlando, Port Orange, Daytona, and Ormond Beach territories. This addition significantly enhances its previously established distribution beyond St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Bradenton, Sarasota and Fort Myers.

As well, Manatee Fresh announces its merger with Lowe & Behold, Orlando’s leading full-service floral event and decor firm. As a division of Manatee Fresh, the partnership augments Lowe & Behold’s ability to provide clients with cut flowers, imported daily from around the world. As well, this Orlando presence expands the ability of the Manatee Fresh wholesale and supermarket divisions to service Central Florida. And, importantly, Lowe & Behold’s team joining Manatee Fresh greatly improves its creative and design abilities, seen across all sales channels.

Missioned to provide a sense of source in every product, Manatee Fresh continues to insist that every grower maintain the highest standards in how they care for their workers and the local and global ecology. With certifications including Rainforest Alliance, USDA Organic, Florverde and Fair Trade, Demeter Biodynamic, and Flor Ecuador, all partner farms are third party inspected annually, AND personally inspected by Manatee Fresh President Robert McLaughlin, ultimately changing the way brands meet the desires of today’s consumer.

With much of the floriculture industry based internationally, Manatee Fresh also believes that acting locally is equally important. It partners with the best farms in the US and Canada for high quality potted plants and flowers. Its primary partner, the 125-year old Manatee Farms of Manatee County, is run by a fourth generation farmer and has employed thousands from the community.

“Sustainable floriculture has been a passion of mine over the past 30 years -- specifically, the rights of workers on floral and produce farms throughout the world,” said Robert McLaughlin, President of Manatee Fresh. “Both here and abroad, I inspect every farm and will only work with growers that employ local workers, pay fair livable wages, and provide the safety training and equipment to ensure workers return healthy to their families each night. Our passion for our people is what makes us different, transparent, and the best possible choice for our array of floral products.”

In addition to its sourcing and distribution expertise, Manatee Fresh also features a full-time team of floral arrangers expert in crafting bouquets for mass market customers and event designers. This ensures that Manatee Fresh collections reflect the best farm and regional offerings for holidays, special events and everyday sales, including specialty displays and products from Thailand, Holland, Canada and beyond.

For more information:
Manatee Fresh 

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