Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AF-KLM Cargo) is now FlowerWatch accredited for all the fresh flowers it ships from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS). The carrier uplifts nearly 18,000 tonnes of fresh flowers from Kenya to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol each year.
AF-KLM Cargo is the first airline group to receive this proof of quality and standardisation and it anticipates its fresh-flower stations of origin in Quito, Ecuador (UIO) and Bogotá, Columbia (BOG) will become FlowerWatch certified in the coming months.
This is an important step towards further improvements in the global floriculture industry, the carrier says. Cold-chain management has emerged in recent years as a vital success factor in the post-harvest life of fresh flowers. Temperature exposure during storage and transportation contributes to discolouring, wilting, poor flower opening, and premature ageing. The end result is reduced vase life, often by several days, AF-KLM says.
FlowerWatch has developed a fail-safe Quality Assurance system, that does not just identify challenges in the cold chain, it actually helps to permanently fix them, according to AF-KLM.
The system’s central concept is ‘time temperature exposure’, which is expressed in degree hours. This is the average temperature of your fresh flowers throughout transportation multiplied by the number of hours (1 degree hour = 1 hour x 1 degree Celsius). Every 500 degree hours reduces vase life by one day. The key to successful cold chain performance is to minimise the number of degree hours.
Eric Mauroux, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo’s global head of Perishables Logistics explains: “Like the pharmaceuticals sector, where steps have been taken to comply with manufacturers requirements, we recognise the necessity for the floriculture sector of moving towards a more efficient cool chain based on the key drivers of effective collaboration, innovation and data-sharing in order to comply with growers’, importers’ and retailers’ requirements.”
“We are strongly committed to maintaining our position as a front-runner in the temperature-sensitive market. By continuously improving and investing in our cool chain, we are leading the industry by example, encouraging all actors to comply with food safety requirements, to increase shelf life and improve consumer experience,” Mauroux says.
To support this ambition, the Franco-Dutch carrier has launched a Cool Chain Programme with the objective of innovating its cool chain by focusing on infrastructure, processes, digital and IT, with dedication and supervision, as well as apron transportation.
“FlowerWatch is an innovative way for us to access our flower flow based on time-temperature exposure throughout the chain. This is another step towards standardisation, which improves the vase life of the flowers we carry out of Kenya*. This accreditation is also a great achievement for all the stakeholders who embarked on this improvement programme with us,” Mauroux adds.