Wholesale florists: how to keep the best product quality of shipment after arrival

As you may have read in Holex' previous article, Holex Flower does everything in its power to make sure that your shipment will get to its destination within the ‘500 Degree Hour Norm’. That is also why we are the first Dutch flower export company that is accredited for the FlowerWatch Distributor Standard, as a part of the FlowerWatch Quality Standard for Global Flower Supply Chains. But how to keep the best product quality of your shipment after arrival at the airport? In this article, Holex will give you advice on how your shipment should be treated at the handling agent, during transport to your location, and how you should store it at your location, in order to keep the best possible product quality.

Upon arrival: the quicker, the better
When the flight with your shipment arrives at the airport, each shipment gets a phytosanitary check. After this check, the shipment will be cleared and will be transported to the handling agent. Of course, this all most likely has to be done as quickly as possible. But, airports can be busy places, and things may take a while. That is why it is so important that your shipment is pre-cooled in the best possible way at the Holex facility.

As you may know, flowers can heat up by their own respiration. FlowerWatch advises handling agents to break down the aircraft pallet within 2 hours after arrival. This stops the own heating process of the flowers, and thus reduces the degree hours. When staying on the aircraft pallet, the flower temperature can rise by 1°C per hour!

After arrival: (re-)cooling is key to success
Of course, flowers can also heat up by ambient temperature. There are many Holex destinations that have temperatures that will heat up flowers faster than their own respiration. Therefore, it is important that your shipment is cooled. Keeping flowers cold is keeping the degree hours low.

Is your company located nearby the airport? It is preferred that the handling agent puts your shipment in the cooler, or maybe they have a cooled loading dock. Make sure you check regularly if this is being done with your shipments when your shipments are picked up. Botrytis spores will germinate in 12 hours by temperatures above 15°C and moist or condensation is present. Storing flowers in the cooler will delay the germination of botrytis spores.

If your company is located further away from the airport, and will the shipment be in a cooled truck for more than a day then re-cooling at the handling agent is a necessary step. Trucks can keep flowers cool, but they are not designed to make them cooler.

The correct way to stack boxes in a cooled truck © FlowerWatch

Ethylene gas: flowers greatest enemy
Ethylene gas is produced by several fruits like bananas, apples, and avocados, but Ethylene is also present in exhaust fumes. Several types of flowers are sensitive for Ethylene, like Carnations, Orchids, and even a part of the Rose assortment. The best growers will treat their flowers on the farm to make them insensitive to Ethylene. Flowers at low temperatures are less sensitive for Ethylene than flowers that are above 15°C. Make sure your shipment is not around shipments with these fruits at the handling agent, or in the truck.

In the truck: the best way to transport your boxes
Through their work with scientists and floriculture businesses, FlowerWatch has developed unique insights into the industry’s success factors. That is also why they have concluded that this way of stacking boxes makes sure that the air circulation will be at its best.

The best way to stack boxes in a cooler © FlowerWatch

Upon arrival: re-cool in the cooler
Stack boxes wide with space, so cold air can circulate around the boxes.

If there is too little space to stack the boxes in the preferred way, you can unpack the boxes and place the flowers on water in the cooler.

After unpacking the boxes, re-hydrate the flowers with a professional post-harvest solution. Store them for minimal of 6 hours in the cooler, before displaying them in your shop.

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