‘Delays of 24 to 48 hours have become normal’

We’re starting to get used to it; the many notifications informing us of yet another delayed shipment. The shortage of cargo space continued to be felt every single day of the past month. Routes to Europe and Australia weren’t too bad, but Miami, the most straightforward destination on paper, was still dramatic.

Delays of 24 to 48 hours have become normal. The same applied to flights from Colombia. During one of our monthly North America meetings, one of my colleagues described the problems as follows: The main challenge is currently not the lockdown, local unrest or postponed events, but receiving flower orders on time. He feels he can no longer tell his customers what’s on offer until he’s physically received the flowers on his premises.

There simply isn’t enough southbound freight to make it worthwhile for airlines to offer extra capacity. Flying out with an empty plane just to load it up with cargo for the way back is (too) expensive. And the availability of passenger planes that can take a few tons of freight with them has been drastically reduced since Covid-19.

The absence of those passenger flights has also led to a certain scarcity and empty shelves in our store cupboard at home. Our supply of Dutch delicatessen has come to a complete halt for almost a year now! No more colleagues or family arriving with some liquorice or other treats. Nothing!

I can’t remember ever having been without a stash of cheese, chocolate or aniseed sprinkles and Cup-a-Soup from the Netherlands before, but that moment is rapidly approaching now. We’ve been rationing for months at our home. The kids are only allowed one slice of bread with chocolate sprinkles on the weekends. My wife gave up drinking Nespresso, sparing me the last few capsules.

But guess what? We’ve found a new source for our cheese supply. In the most unexpected place. Just outside Quito, cheesemaker Hans has recently started selling Monarkaas. His micro company sources milk from around ten local farmers and uses this to make the most delicious cheeses to traditional Dutch recipes.

Their first products included Gouda and cumin cheese, and the nettle cheese will be ready soon. I can’t wait to try it! It doesn’t get more Dutch than this!

Victor van dijk,

Area manager South America, FleuraMetz

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