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The Cargolite concept is spreading its wings

Cargolite®, the innovative packaging concept for fresh-cut flowers, which has gained quite a lot of popularity in Kenya, is now going international. From January 2022, it is also fully available to Ecuadorian growers and will soon be available in Colombia as well.

Cargolite XL

Proven resilience to crushing, an increased pack rate, and inherent stacking ability with lower shipping costs are only some of the benefits that turn the Cargolite concept into a winning system and make it the optimized solution for the ever-increasing shipping costs and lack of air space, explains John Kowarsky, Cargolite's CEO. "The situation regarding airfreight space has become more pressing for the farms and customers. It seems that airlines are reducing the availability of flights, and therefore it has become more important today to find ways to increase the amount of flowers in the space available, and this is what we do at Cargolite: we make it all more efficient and cost-effective."

XL Kraft packing Ecuador

How it's done?
Every Cargolite box has a patented skeleton. The skeleton, consisting of two frames made of plastic or carton, reinforces the structure of the box. This way, the load of the cartons above is supported by the frames and not by the carton walls or the flowers. The frames are designed to withhold a weight of up to 1000Kg. "In short, the packing materials now weigh considerably less than what is being used today!"

"In other words," says Amnon Zamir, R&D manager for Cargolite, "the boxes do not crush, so we do not need the heavy wrapping around the bunches to protect them. Removing the wrapping, such as "SFK" in Kenya and "Lamina and separators" in Ecuador, and replacing them with softer alternatives allows for more space in the carton. This way, we can pack more flowers and save on airfreight by packing more stems in the volume of the box, and the farms, we can also save on packaging materials. This way, both the AWB payer and the farm save a lot."

XL Ecuadorian packing

Fully available in Ecuador
In 2021, the Cargolite concept was extensively tried in Ecuador, and since January 2022, it is fully commercial and available to local farms and international clients buying in Ecuador. The first client to adapt the system in Ecuador was Agrotropic, a Swiss buyer who also uses the Cargolite boxes for exports from Kenya. Agrotropic were able to considerably reduce their airfreight cost, and furthermore, the farms were themselves able to save up to 1,5 cents per stem on packaging materials. This was achieved without compromising the quality of the flowers. 

Recently a go-down was set up in Tabacundo, Ecuador, which supplies farms between Cayambe and Cotopaxi areas. Cargolite also teamed up with the High Control Group to monitor and assure the quality of initiation, trials, and shipments from Ecuador. Amnon, who has just returned from Ecuador, said: "After Expo Flores in Quito last month, we visited a lot of farms, and there has been a great interest in the concept. After a few farm visits, the general reaction from the farm managers to the potential savings was one of shock, surprise, and disbelief! The Pack rates grew by 9%-30%, and now, it is up to us to follow up and show them how it works."

Sea freight pallets loaded

Sea freight
The lack of air space and the rising costs are pushing exporters to consider the sea freight option with growing interest. Colombian and Ecuadorian exporters have been using sea freight to export to the US, but for the Kenyan flower industry, it is still a challenge, especially because of the four weeks it takes ships to cross the distance to Europe. Kuehne and Nagel, and Maersk have been shipping full containers for over a year now, but the main hurdle remains keeping the right temperature of the flowers steady during the whole journey.

Since June this year, Cargolite has been participating in the sea shipment trials, "The results look very promising," says Kowarsky, "The temperatures in the Cargolite boxes stayed stable because of the inherent ventilation in the Cargolite system. The frames of the sea freight box are external, so when the boxes are placed next to each other on the skid, a space is formed between the boxes that allow for the airflow to circulate from the bottom upwards, this way each box in the container is exposed to airflow from its four sides and keeps the temperature stable during the whole trip. So far, we have been exporting our sea freight boxes successfully to Holland and the UK, where our boxes are tested for a large supermarket chain. In Holland, the unpackers confirmed that there was no acute difference between the flowers sent in Cargolite boxes and the same flowers arriving by air."

Sea Freight

Partnership with FlowerWatch
To further improve our performance in sea freight, adds kowarsky, Cargolite has now partnered with FlowerWatch, and together with leading parties in the industry, we are working towards an efficient and sustainable supply chain. "FlowerWatch is also very much involved with other primary stakeholders in Kenya, and together, these partnerships will enable better results when shipping cut flowers in reefers.

Expanding markets and increase range
When looking at the future, there are a lot of plans in the pipeline. Within the year, Cargolite is looking to start supplying growers in Colombia. However, changes in the Cargolite carton seems to be required. "The growers are concerned about the size of the carton. Currently, we use quite large cartons, but some markets require smaller selling units."

This was also required when opening the market to exporters from South Africa, said Amnon. "We are always aware while developing new items to adapt our products to the needs of the markets. We will present the smaller cartons at our booth in IFTF (D1- 38)."

Cargolite go down at JKIA

Improved logistics at JKIA
Cargolite has also recently opened a newly built go down in cooperation with Signion in the cargo village at JKIA. "It is very convenient, says Martin Kabaka, Cargolite sales manager in Kenya, now after offloading boxes of flowers at the forwarders, the growers can send their trucks to pick up Cargolite packaging materials at the airport instead of trading the congested roads of Nairobi's industrial area. It saves a lot of time, and everything runs more efficiently".

Shared booth with Afrex at IFTF
Cargolite will be displaying their concept at IFTF 2022 from November 9-11 in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands. They will share their booth, number D1-38, with Afrex of South Africa and Kenya, who will be exhibiting Cape flora flowers and decorative edible flowers that can also be used at events as a decoration. The Cape flora flowers will be shipped from South Africa with the Cargolite concept very soon.

For more information
John Kowarsky
Email: [email protected] 
T: + 972 52 3282100

Amnon Zamir
Email: [email protected] 
T: + 972 52 6383737

Martin Kabaka
Email: [email protected] 
T: +254 722 309 318