As we move forward towards Valentine’s Day, with the abundance of flowers, especially roses coming into the USA from Ecuador, it is an opportune time to reflect on what goes into getting the roses from the farms on the Equator to our clients in the USA.
I think it is obvious what the “Beauty” is in my heading, but the significance of “The Beast” is more obtuse. The Beast is a term I have designated for the bottle-neck at the airport in Quito. While the Mariscal Sucre is a gorgeous new airport for passengers, the layout for cargo traffic is less than optimum.
As such, in the week preceding the week leading up to Valentine’s Day the amount of air cargo is about 8 times the normal amount of roses and other flowers leaving Ecuador. One of my principal tasks this week has been to ensure that farms deliver in a timely fashion to freight forwarders’ coolers at the airport, where they are palletized and then delivered to the airline of choice, which in our case is UPS.
For the farms, as for most segments of the floral industry, the production of roses and other blooms is a race against time. On the one hand, flowers need to be harvested expeditiously, then fully hydrated, processed, graded and packed - but in the race against time to fulfill Valentine’s orders, often the delivery of the blooms can be delayed. This starts a chain of incremental delays that can result in shipments not leaving the country until the following day. This year at the airport there have been lines of trucks as long as a mile and a half, trying to drop off their beautiful cargo to the airlines. Some cargo at the back of those lines will not get to the airline’s warehouses in time to be palletized and put on board the respective aircraft. Each day this past week I visit some of our farms, to check the roses and make sure they are of the correct quality, but just as importantly, I have an evangelical task of encouraging farm management to make sure the Mayesh flowers get to the airport on time.
This year the weather has been incredibly hot and warm, due in part to climate change, and as a consequence many of the rose farms’ harvest was several weeks early, and therefore not suitable for Valentine’s Day. Our team in Ecuador has assiduously chasing the perfect Valentine’s blooms, cancelling orders at certain farms, and booking new orders with farms that have harvests of fresh roses. We partner with some of the best farms in the world to obtain wonderful flowers for our clients, but even so, I have had to reject thousands of stems of red roses due to poor quality. This does cause stress on everyone concerned, but is worth the effort to maintain the integrity of our products, and not expend unnecessary energy and money on flowers that are less than satisfactory.
All in all, our efforts have been successful; all our roses have left or will leave on schedule, and will soon be on their way to Mayesh locations throughout the USA. In my next post I will take another look at the Beauty and the Beast.
Signing off from Quito, Ecuador,