‘Things are crazier than ever in Colombia and Ecuador’

Things are crazier than ever. Colombia and Ecuador are experiencing extraordinary times. Due to a combination of unusually cold and dark months, the aftereffects of the coronavirus crisis (more young plants than normal at this time) and the normal fluctuations in the production cycle, there have been very few cut flowers available in recent weeks. Add to that the ongoing high demand from consumers, the return of events, the low supply from other production areas, and voila: a perfect storm!

We’re scraping the flowers together as best as we can. Our network and collaborations are more important than ever before. Letting everybody get their fair share, looking for alternatives, making compromises. Anything to avoid having to say ‘no’ to a customer.

The few products that do make it to the market are sold against record prices. Higher even than what we normally see around Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. White and sand-coloured roses are on top with purchase prices often higher than $1.60 per stem, compared to the normal September prices of 30-to-60-dollar cents.

An American wholesaler described the shortage of white roses aptly on Instagram the other day: “The worst shortage since America ran out of toilet paper last year.” I couldn’t have put it any better myself! And the shortage isn’t limited to roses. Hydrangeas and carnations, among others, have also been in short supply all season.

Meanwhile, the situation around airfreight capacity remains as problematic as ever. After a few easier weeks, we’re now struggling again to get all our boxes to leave South America. There’s still a structural lack of space on the Miami and Amsterdam routes, making 24-to-48-hour cargo rotations more the rule than an exception.

When it comes to flights to Australia however, we’re facing an entirely different challenge. On this route, there are no or hardly any delays, but it’s often a struggle to fill the space that was contracted in advance. If you don’t use your kgs, you still have to pay for them. And not so little either! The airfreight rates to Australia are 9 dollar per kg, and counting, by now. That’s roughly €0.60 per rose. For airfreight alone! Plus purchasing, customs, phytosanitary inspection and a margin…

That’s what is called a true ALL TIME HIGH!

Victor van Dijk,

Areamanager FM Group South America

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