Air France KLM Martinair (AF-KLM) Cargo is now flying flowers out of Columbia under its FlowerWatch quality assurance system. The carrier group’s unique degree-hour controlled shipping method has been specially designed to handle delicate flowers.
First launched in Kenya in June this year, the FlowerWatch certification has been extended to other flower markets, the carrier says.
Eric Mauroux, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo’s global head of Perishables Logistics explains: “By implementing the FlowerWatch quality insurance system in the main flower markets, we are not only improving the quality and vase life of fresh-cut flowers but also fostering vertical collaboration amongst all stake holders in the supply chain.
“We are the first airline to gain the certification, making it a reaffirmation of our commitment to the flower industry,” Mauroux adds.
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.
FlowerWatch has developed a fail-safe Quality Assurance system. This system does not just identify challenges in the cold chain, it actually helps to permanently fix them.
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.
On a yearly basis, AF-KLM Cargo ships approximately 32,000 tonnes of fresh flowers, including Colombia (11,000 tonnes) and Ecuador (21,000 tonnes) to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).
AF-KLM Cargo is attending Proflora 2019 in Bogotá, Colombia – the largest international trade fair for cut flowers in the Americas – from 2-4 October where it will officially announce Columbia’s FlowerWatch milestone.