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Chapter 20 Harvest and distribution.

The floral industry has become a worldwide network of production with various distribution channels of floral crops. Areas of production are increasing throughout the world, making more flowers and a greater selection available all year long. Much research on the postharvest technology of cut flowers and foliage has resulted in better care and handling techniques. The harvesting, packing, and shipping of floral products all contribute to the longevity of cut flowers and foliage. The speed of shipment and the channels of distribution, that of moving flowers from the grower to the final consumer, are varied and changing, depending on many factors. Electronic commerce is changing traditional buying and selling methods in the floral industry. The quality and longevity of cut flowers are largely predetermined before getting to the final consumer. Proper care and handling at each level of distribution is vital because it can lead to longer-lasting flowers and repeat consumption (see Figure 20-1).

The World Flower Market

Dramatic shifts in the production and distribution of fresh flowers have taken place in the past twenty-five years. Before the global expansion of fresh flower production, the United States was nearly self-sufficient, that is, most flowers consumed in the United States were grown domestically. Historically, fresh flowers were grown locally and consumed in a limited geographical area around the grower.

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Many factors have influenced changes in the production of floral crops. The improvement of transportation and the increase in air transportation for the shipment of floral products to domestic and foreign markets have resulted in a worldwide market. Many new production areas in developing countries have increased production of floral crops worldwide. Much research in the postharvest care and handling of flowers, combined with advances in crop selection and cultivation methods have contributed to increased cut flower supplies year-round (see Figure 20-2).

Production

Floral crops are grown in practically every country of the world (see Figure 20-3). Though many countries are producers and exporters of flowers and foliage, Colombia, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Israel, and Italy are leaders in worldwide cut flower exports. Although the Netherlands is not the world's largest producer of floral crops, it has been the dominant country in the distribution of fresh flowers. The Aalsmeer Flower Auction has traditionally been the focal point for distribution around the world. Holland's geographical location, close to many of the major fresh flower consumption areas of the world, gives this country distribution leadership.

The major flower production areas in the European Union include the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Although many South American countries are increasing cut flower production, Colombia and Ecuador are the major producers, shipping throughout the world. In Central America, the flower hubs include Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. The major growers and exporters in Africa include Kenya and South Africa. Israel is the leading exporter in the Middle East. In the Asian region, Thailand and Singapore are key countries with a meaningful presence in the world floral market. Other countries known for flower production and exporting include Australia and New Zealand. In the United States the major areas of production are California, Florida, Colorado, and Hawaii. However, cut flowers are grown commercially in nearly every state.

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Exports of floral products do not necessarily coincide with production areas. Some countries are importers of floral crops that then resell them for export. For example, Holland, a major exporter of floral products, is not the world's largest producer. And although the United States is a primary producer of floral crops, it ranks low as an exporter of cut flowers, while importing great quantities from many other countries.

Consumption

The countries importing or consuming the most floral products include Germany, the United States, France, Switzerland, Holland, Great Britain, Austria, Belgium/Luxembourg, and Sweden. Since Holland is a hub for worldwide exporting of fresh flowers, many countries ship their floral crops to Holland for exporting to other countries, not for consumption in Holland.

The fresh flower market in the United States has emerged from a domestic market to a worldwide market. Countries throughout the world export flowers to the United States. Some of the major exporters into the United States include Colombia, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Thailand.

Seasonal Availability

The abundance of domestically grown and imported cut floral products offers year-round availability for florists in the United States. Staple crops, such as roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums, are constantly available because they are produced by so many countries. A shortage of these flowers in one area due to seasonal availability, weather, or other factors may temporarily affect prices, but will not generally affect the supply. A producer in another area will make up for any flower shortage.

Many seasonal crops, such as tulips, daffodils, and gladioli, have been bred to be produced year-round, helping make most flowers available to the worldwide market all year long. However, some crops, primarily those grown outdoors, are still seasonal and limited to the plant's natural growth and flowering cycles. Spring-flowering branches, holly with red berries, and acacia tree blossoms are still only available at certain times of the year.

Tropical flowers and cut greens are available year-round due to the opposite growing seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres (see Figure 20-4). The summers of the southern hemisphere provide flowers for the northern hemisphere during its winters. Production from local, domestic, and foreign sources in the global market provides wholesalers, retailers, and consumers with a wide variety of cut flowers and foliage every day, all year long.

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Harvest

Methods for harvesting flowers vary according to individual crops, growers, production areas, and marketing systems. The immediate postharvest of flowers for commercial use involves grading, bunching, sleeving, conditioning, and packing.

Throughout the world, flower products are generally harvested by hand in greenhouses, growing structures, and open fields. Using shears or sharp knives, flowers are usually harvested in the early morning and then processed for distribution the same day. Simple mechanical aids are used for certain crops. For example, special rose shears that grip the flower stem after it has been cut allow the rose to be withdrawn with one hand from the bush (see Figure 20-5). Other tools are designed to harvest long-stemmed flowers without workers having to stoop.

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Flowers have inherent genetic factors that affect lasting qualities. Some cut flowers just last longer than others due to their genetic makeup. However, whatever the typical time frame is for the life of a cut flower, it can be dramatically increased with correct harvesting conditions. All flower crops need to be harvested at the proper stage of development to ensure longevity as they move through the various levels of distribution. The time of harvest and the maturity of the flower bud at harvest are both factors that affect the postharvest quality and longevity of flowers.

Time of Harvest

Research indicates that flowers have higher carbohydrate levels in the early evening. When cut during this time, they last longer because they contain stored energy. However, commercially it is not practical for most growers to cut flowers in the early evening. Typically, a grower harvests in the early morning and then processes the flowers for distribution the same day. Early-morning harvest allows time for flowers to be properly processed and to arrive fresh and newly cut to the wholesaler or other place of distribution.

Stage of Bud Development

How flowers are handled after harvest and the changes that occur within them during the postharvest period are strongly influenced by their basic structure. The ideal stage for flowers to be harvested is different for each crop. Once cut, the flower must continue to grow and develop, if necessary, to reach maximum quality. If flowers are harvested prematurely, they will not open properly. Some flowers, when cut too soon may open, but will be smaller. Often petals will not be as colorful. In contrast, if flowers are harvested when too mature, they will not ship well and vase life is drastically reduced.

Although there are proven proper stages of cutting for most flowers, bud-opening solutions have made it possible to cut some flowers, such as carnations, at an even tighter bud stage. Flowers in the tight bud stage ship better, suffer less damage, and usually last longer.

Grading

The grading of fresh flower crops is an important factor in controlling quality. Although not all flower types are graded, all flowers are checked for quality before they are packed for shipment. Because there are no United States federal or state standards for cut flowers, producers, wholesalers, and retailers have their own internal grade standards, which are highly variable. Roses, carnations, and gladioli are flower crops most often available by grades.

Grading is generally based on stem length, even though stem length may have little relationship to flower quality, vase life, or usefulness. (Other factors, such as stem straightness and stem strength, flower size, vase life, uniformity, freedom from defects, and foliage quality, are useful in determining the grade for many flower types.) Roses are graded and sold according to the stem lengths, strength, and uniformity (see Figure 20-6). Domestic roses are sold in 4-inch increments with stem lengths varying from around 10 inches on up to 30 inches and longer. These roses are labeled as shorts, mediums, longs, fancy, and extra fancy. Roses grown worldwide, however, are graded and packaged in 10-centimeter increments such as 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 centimeters. Nondomestic roses are identified as shorts, mediums, longs, and extra longs.

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The price of flowers fluctuates based on grade. Although there is some inconsistency in grading, grade standards for various crops are fairly established within the floral industry. Grading has set standards that allow industry members--growers, wholesalers, and retailers--to communicate the quality and characteristics of products. Grading also allows a retailer to purchase the quality and stem length of roses or other flowers needed. For example, when a retailer needs roses for corsage work, the extra-fancy, long-stemmed roses are not necessary. Conversely, when the longest stems and highest quality are needed, grades make it possible for retailers to get what they desire.

Bunching

Flowers are generally bunched, except for some orchids, anthuriums, and a few other specialty flowers. The growing area, market, and species are all factors that determine the number of flowers in a bunch. Single-stem flowers, such as roses and carnations, are generally grouped in bunches of twenty-five. Bunches of ten and twelve stems are common for many flower types. Spray-type flowers, such as spray chrysanthemums and spray carnations, are bunched by the number of open flowers, by weight, or by total bunch size.

Bunches are tied together with string, paper-covered wire, or elastic bands. Many are sleeved to protect and separate the flower heads, prevent tangling, and identify the grower or shipper (see Figure 20-7). A variety of materials are used for sleeving, including waxed and unwaxed paper and perforated, unperforated, and blister polyethylene (thin plastic).

When flowers are graded and bunched while in the field or greenhouse, damage through multiple handlings is reduced (see Figure 20-8). Once flowers are graded and bunched, they may be treated with chemical solutions or placed in storage.

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Conditioning with Chemical Solution Treatments

There are a variety of solutions or chemical treatments that flowers may be placed in after harvest. Each has a specific role in increasing the longevity and quality of cut flowers.

Generally, flowers are placed in the proper flower-preservative solution immediately after harvesting. Some growers do not follow this recommended procedure because a picker cannot harvest a flower and immediately place it into a preservative solution in a cost-effective manner.

Rehydration

Rehydration treatment is done to quickly hydrate flowers. The chemical solution used consists of deionized water that is acidified with citric acid to a pH near 3.5. Wetting agents and a germicide are also added to the water; however, no sugar is added to the solution.

Pulsing

Pulsing solutions are formulated to extend the storage and vase life of flowers. The main ingredient in most pulsing solutions is sucrose, ranging from 2 percent to 20 percent, depending on the flower being pulsed. Some flowers are also pulsed with silver thiosulfate (STS) to reduce the detrimental effects of ethylene. Flowers are pulsed for various time lengths depending on the crop and the solution. Ranging from ten-second dips to several hours or a day, pulsing increases the longevity and enhances the quality of cut life.

Bud-Opening Solution

Bud-opening solution speeds the opening of bud-cut flowers before they are sold. These solutions contain sugar and a germicide. If the sugar concentration is too high, damage to foliage may result. This treatment is used in conjunction with relatively warm temperatures and high light intensity.

Tinting

Tinting, or artificial coloring of flowers, may be done in two ways: internally, through the stem, as with carnations, or externally by dipping the flower heads, as with daisies. The carnations to be tinted are temporarily kept out of water in order to get "thirsty" so they will drink up the tinting solution quickly. The flowers are removed from the tinting solution and put into a preservative solution before reaching the desired color because the dye still in the stem is flushed into the flower by the preservative solution.

Packing

Packing flowers for shipping is a specialized science. Depending on the crop, the grower, the distance of transport, cost, packing method, and other factors, the materials used for packaging will vary. It is essential that boxes be packed in ways that minimize transport damage. Specialty and delicate flowers are often packed in layers of shredded newspaper, paper wool, or wood wool to minimize friction and prevent damage. Other flowers are packed with chopped ice or polar packs to keep them cool.

For wilt-sensitive tropical flowers, such as anthurium and heliconia, the shredded newspaper may be moistened to reduce water loss. Many flowers, such as bird of paradise, may be individually protected by paper or sleeves. The stems of orchids are generally placed in small water tubes containing preservative solution.

Some delicate specialty flowers are packaged in small boxes for protection. Gardenias are generally packaged three to a box. The gardenias inside the box are protected with a plastic lining to prevent moisture loss. Twenty-five stephanotis blossoms are packaged in small boxes and generally cushioned with moistened, shredded paper. Gerberas are usually packaged and shipped in boxes that contain specially designed inserts that support and protect the heads while keeping the stems straight and outstretched (see Figure 20-9). Flowers such as gloriosa lilies are packaged in sealed plastic sleeves that have been filled with air. These "pillows" prevent the unique flower heads and floral parts from being crushed and damaged.

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Boxes

Boxes are available in several standard sizes for the shipment of cut flowers. Most boxes for cut flowers are long and flat, restricting the depth of flowers to help keep the flowers from crushing one another. Corrugated fiberboard, polyurethane-sprayed (insulated) fiberboard, and polystyrene (Styrofoam[TM]) boxes are commonly used box materials.

Flower heads are usually placed at both ends to utilize space efficiently. To prevent sliding and transport damage, most packers anchor the layers of flowers with one or more cleats (crosswise supports spanning the width of the box). Foam or newspaper-covered wood cleats are placed over the flowers, pushed down, and stapled into each side of the box. Flower heads are placed several inches from the ends of the box to eliminate mechanical damage to the flower heads during loading and unloading. Some flowers, such as gladioli and snapdragons, are packed in upright boxes, called hampers, to prevent unsightly geotropic bending. Other flowers packed upright in water are also shipped in hampers (see Figure 20-10).

Precooling

Boxes are usually precooled before shipping. Precooling is a process that replaces the warm air in a box of flowers with refrigerated air. Lowering the air temperature in a box of flowers keeps them in a dormant stage of development to curb deterioration during transit. Care must be given to how flowers are packed within the box so that airflow is not impeded (see Figure 20-11).

Packed boxes that have not been precooled do not cool well if they are just placed in a refrigerated room or on a refrigerated truck. The rapid respiration of the flowers, combined with the insulating properties of a packed box, result in heat buildup inside the boxes. Flowers generate enough heat from respiration to literally "cook" themselves.

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Forced-air cooling of boxes with closable flaps or vent holes on both ends is the most effective method for cooling cut flowers prior to transit. Forced-air precooling is accomplished by drawing cooled air, with the proper relative humidity for the particular flower, through the box to remove the excess heat. Boxes are positioned in front of a precooling fan unit. Most packed boxes can be cooled in less than an hour. However, the temperature of the products inside the boxes should be closely monitored during precooling. Precooling may be repeated at any time during the time of distribution, especially if the packed flower box has been left out of refrigerated conditions.

Ethylene

Because all plants produce ethylene gas (see Chapter 10), there is a natural buildup of ethylene while flowers are packed tightly together in boxes over lengthy periods of time. Specialized trucks used to ship flowers have ethylene scrubbers or filters that remove ethylene from the circulating air inside the trailer. Fruits and vegetables emit high amounts of ethylene. For this reason, flowers should not be shipped with fruits and vegetables.

Shipping

Shipping is the process of transporting floral products from one point to another point in the channels of distribution. The several links between distribution points are major factors that influence the longevity of cut flowers and foliage. It is estimated that two-thirds of the transport of cut floral products is completed by truck and about one-third by air. The remainder of shipping is completed by a combination of courier, bus, rail, and in-house means. Most flowers are shipped dry-packed, without water. The speed and the conditions in which flowers are transported affect their quality and longevity.

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Shipping by Air

Shipping by air usually provides the quickest and most frequent service of transportation. Shipping by air is the primary and sometimes only means of transportation of floral products from most foreign countries (see Figure 20-12). The proper packing of flowers for air travel is essential. Air shipping is also used to transport flowers within the United States from growers and brokers to wholesalers. While shipping domestically by air usually costs more than other modes of transportation, the delivery of floral products from one airport to another airport is generally twenty-four hours or less. However, when the shipping of flower boxes is delayed at the airport, sometimes transit between airports takes forty-eight hours or more. Other problems include the loss of space, transfer problems, and lack of climate control.

On arrival at the destination airport, flowers should be unloaded and shipped to the next point of distribution as quickly as possible.

Shipping by Truck

Trucks are the most common mode of transporting floral products to and from points throughout the channels of distribution (see Figure 20-13). A wide variety of trucks, equipped with proper shipping conditions, transport floral products from grower to shipper, grower to wholesaler, and wholesaler to retailer. Transport by truck is certainly slower than air carriage to major markets, but the benefits of long- and short-distance refrigerated shipping cause it to account for the majority of floral-industry transportation.

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Most shippers who transport floral products use environmentally controlled trucks. These refrigerated trucks provide the constant proper temperature and humidity control throughout transit. Many trucks provide ethylene-scrubbing units to prevent and reduce the buildup of ethylene, which may prove to be a problem for flowers that are inside boxes and in transit for several days.

Many factors affect the quality of flowers that are shipped by truck, including whether or not flowers are precooled or recooled. Other factors include the cooler facilities on the truck, delays of inspection, and loading and unloading procedures. On arrival at the wholesaler or retailer, flowers should be unloaded and cared for as quickly as possible in order to maintain the best possible quality.

Time Frame

The typical time frame from grower to retailer varies depending on the distance floral products must travel and the mode of transportation (see Table 20-1). It is important that flowers move as quickly as possible through the distribution channel to allow the final consumer to have more time to enjoy the flowers. The time from grower to retailer and the quality of care and handling during that time will increase the longevity of flowers for the final consumer--making happy, repeat customers.

Distribution

Traditionally, flowers have moved from a grower on to a shipper or broker, on to a wholesaler, then to a retailer, and finally to the consumer (see Figure 20-14). Today, however, with new user-friendly technology making websites easy to operate, growers are able to post and sell flowers electronically directly to florists and mass markets. Elimination of some interim points of distribution has resulted in flowers moving more directly from the grower to the final consumer.

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Foreign Growers

Imported cut flowers arrive daily in the United States, mostly by air. Some trucks are used to import flowers and foliage from Canada and Mexico, but these shipments are generally targeted for distribution points near the borders. Truck-shipped cut foliage from Mexico is distributed throughout the United States.

Colombia and Ecuador are the largest exporters of cut flowers into the United States. Major crops include roses, carnations, spray chrysanthemums, baby's breath, and alstroemeria. Most of these flowers are shipped mainly to Miami, Florida (or other large import areas), to brokers who redistribute the flowers to wholesalers or to other brokers.

Another important source of imported cut flowers into the United States is the Netherlands, which specializes in tulips, gerbera, freesia, roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, lilies, irises, orchids, and alstroemeria (see Figure 20-15). Shipments sent by air to major airports in the United States are distributed to wholesalers.

Other countries generally ship floral products to a United States broker, who acts as a sales agent and representative for the producing country or for a cooperative group of producers. These floral products are then distributed to wholesalers.

Domestic Growers

Depending on the size of the grower, the volume of crops produced, and the preference of the grower, crops generally move directly from the field or greenhouse to the wholesaler. Sometimes, however, especially for small, seasonal growers, flowers may be directly sold to the retailer or final consumer.

Auction

An auction is in reality a centralized wholesale facility where many growers bring their floral products, early each weekday, to sell through open-market bidding by brokers, wholesalers, and retailers. At the auction, the products are inspected and graded for quality. Inferior products are not allowed to go through the auction for sale. Products retained for resale in the auction are given a lot number.

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These numbered products are carried by a trolley system through the auction room. Buyers sit at desks and chairs in a theaterlike room. Each buyer has a purchasing number. As flowers are paraded across the stage, buyers are able to purchase flowers through a bidding process.

At the world-famous Aalsmeer Auction in Holland, a large "clock" on the wall displays prices for a particular flower that is being shown for sale (see Figure 20-16). When the price suits a buyer, and he decides he wants to purchase the lot of flowers at the auction, he presses a button on his desk (before the other buyers) and the sale is recorded.

At the end of the auction, each buyer is presented with an invoice for all he has purchased and his account is settled in cash before he leaves. As shown in Figure 20-17, employees at the auction warehouse organize and package floral products that have been purchased. Once flower boxes are packed, they are stored in the building until they are loaded onto trucks for shipment. Flowers that are sold through the auction may have been cut that very morning. Once sold at the auction, they are delivered to an airport for worldwide shipping, often the very same day. When exporting to the United States, flowers are generally shipped to brokers and wholesalers.

Broker

A broker or distributor functions as the marketing hub by handling the functions between buyers and sellers. Sources of delivery are coordinated all over the world. A broker represents one grower or a group of growers. The grower packs the flower products at the point of production and then sends them to a central point of redistribution, for example, brokers in Miami, Florida or Chicago, Illinois. Brokers purchase flowers in large quantities for their own inventory. These are sold by salespeople who call on wholesalers and other brokers. When brokers presell floral products, the grower packs for these specific orders. Brokers move the products in box lots exactly as packed by the grower.

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Brokers often have refrigerated facilities for storing boxes of flowers shipped to them by their growers. Often, the broker never even sees or physically handles the floral products and never processes flowers or opens boxes to repack in smaller quantities. Generally, brokers sell and ship from boxed, stored inventory.

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Wholesaler

A wholesaler is the traditional link between the grower, the broker or shipper, and the retail flower shop (see Figure 20-18). Many growers, especially regional growers, sell directly to wholesalers. With electronic commerce and the Internet, major floral websites make it easier for wholesalers to instantaneously search growers across the United States and the world to find the flowers, foliage, floral products, and prices they are looking for. Products usually arrive in the early morning by truck, coming from an airport or directly from a grower. Early-morning arrival allows time for processing and resale the very same day the floral products are received. When shipments arrive at the wholesale house, they are generally unloaded into a cold-storage area, have a temperature around 40-50[degrees]F. Boxes are opened and inspected for damage or insects. Once inspected, they are laid out on tables to be processed or repacked for immediate delivery.

Wholesalers have multiple coolers, set at various temperatures (see Figure 20-19). The general holding coolers for most flowers and foliage are set at 36-38[degrees]F. The cooler for tropical flowers is set at 50[degrees]F. Sometimes a separate cooler for roses is set at 34[degrees]F. All of the coolers maintain high humidity levels and are equipped with ethylene scrubbers.

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Many large wholesalers who process thousands of flowers each day have sophisticated water systems that remove impurities from the water. Preservative water is often dispensed through special tanks.

A wholesaler assembles products from many different sources and makes them available to retailers (see Figure 20-20). The wholesaler buys in bulk quantities directly from growers and brokers, breaks the bulk, sorts shipments into smaller lots, and then distributes products to retailers. Large retail florists often buy in box lots of one product--a box of 500-600 carnations or roses, or an entire box of spray chrysanthemums. Typically, however, retailers buy their flowers in a bunch, not a full box of one type of flower.

Most retail outlets in the United States purchase their floral products from a wholesaler. However, some large shops, chain retailers, and mass merchandisers are able to buy directly from growers. Wholesale purchasing offers many advantages to retail florists, who may purchase small quantities through wholesalers, rather than having to purchase an entire box of the same kind and color of flower. A great selection of flowers is available at one location (see Figure 20-21). Wholesalers extend credit to retailers, welcome special orders, offer delivery, and back the quality of the flowers.

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Retailer

Traditionally, wholesalers are the immediate source for most flower retailers. However, with the Internet and its new floral search engines, florists are able to order, pay for, and have flowers shipped and delivered seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, all from their own desktop computer. Major overnight shipping companies offer popular websites with efficient online booking and tracking. Major airlines and floral trucking companies make it possible for florists to book and track floral shipments.

Floral shops buy from their local wholesalers several times each week, each morning, or several times each day. While retailers may visit the wholesaler to select their own flowers, orders are usually placed by phone or electronically and then delivered by the wholesaler to the shops (see Figure 20-22).

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By the time fresh flowers and foliage reach the retail store, they may have been cut for several days or a week. If the floral products have received proper care and handling during harvest and distribution, they will be in good condition. However, to continue the longevity and quality of the flowers, it is vital that boxes are opened at the retail level immediately on receipt. Deliveries should be checked for accuracy and inspected for insects or diseases.

Cut flowers should be properly processed (see Chapter 10) and immediately placed in warm hydrating and preservative solutions and placed in the cooler. Flowers have the ability to revive and become vital again with proper care treatments.

Storage

Flowers are stored in the cooler at the retail floral shop. They may also have been placed in storage facilities along the route of distribution. Proper storage conditions are vital for increasing the length of vase life for the final consumer. Low temperatures and high humidity reduce the rate of respiration, eliminate heat buildup, delay the development of flowers, and reduce the effects of ethylene gas (see Chapter 10).

Storage coolers are those that are used to store flowers rather than display them. A typical storage cooler is a walk-in unit with solid walls (no windows). Storage coolers are used for dry-pack storage of flowers and foliage. Proper temperatures and humidity levels are essential to keep dry-pack flowers and greens without a water supply fresh. Generally, flowers are stored in buckets of preservative solution while in the cooler. Floral arrangements awaiting delivery are also stored in the cooler at retail shops and at some wholesale outlets (see Figure 20-23).

Final Consumer

The final consumer is the last person to receive flowers through the traditional channels of distribution. However, electronic commerce with user-friendly websites has made it possible for consumers to order flowers from big companies, such as 1-800-Flowers, wire services, and national wholesalers, eliminating one or more stops in the channels of distribution. Flowers may be ordered, paid for, and delivered often within twenty-four hours.

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The consumer must be made aware of continued proper care and handling methods to help flowers last as long as possible. Consumers generally underestimate the potential vase life. Without proper care, flowers wilt and die prematurely. Care information and a floral preservative sachet should be included with each flower order. Satisfied customers will return for more flowers, which ultimately keeps the floral industry strong, healthy, and thriving.

National Advertising

Consumer awareness of the importance and beauty of flowers increases flower consumption (see Figure 20-24). Several organizations within the floral industry help retail florists sell more flowers through national print and broadcast advertising. These companies' efforts increase flower consumption and benefit not only the retail florists, but the floral industry as a whole.

Wire services, such as Florists' Transworld Delivery, Inc. (FTD), and Teleflora, spend millions of dollars promoting flowers, products, and their companies. Huge financial commitments help to promote awareness of flowers through national print and broadcast advertising. They advertise on television and in magazines to help sell flowers not only for special occasion holidays, but for everyday enjoyment as well. The overall goal is to bring business into the traditional local retail florists' shops.

The Society of American Florists (SAF) supports professional florists through various national and promotional efforts. One advertising program places advertorials (engaging advertisements designed to look and read like magazine articles) in national publications. Advertorials are an effective way to educate consumers. They present a unique way to create more knowledgeable customers, as well as inform flower buyers about the services and advice offered by professional florists. In a recent campaign, SAF promoted flowers by targeting its advertising to the primary buyers of floral gifts, women ages 25 to 54. The national print advertising program was intended to educate female consumers about the benefits of flowers and to increase their confidence in ordering floral gifts through professional floral shops.

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The American Floral Marketing Council (AFMC), a branch of SAF, uses voluntary contributions to create a more general awareness of flowers, especially the everyday enjoyment of flowers (see Figure 20-25). Other companies, such as USA Floral Products, Inc., a large supplier, has also supported the floral industry through national advertising. Its advertising goal in the past has been to help consumers remember to buy flowers.

Review

Once a nation that produced nearly all the flowers sold domestically, the United States is now served by worldwide producers. Flowers are imported into the United States from nearly every part of the world. This plentiful supply of fresh flowers creates a competitive market.

Techniques used for harvesting, grading, bunching, conditioning, and packaging determine the quality and longevity of fresh flowers. The stage at which a flower is harvested depends on the market serviced. Today's rapid shipping with climate-controlled conditions provides for a daily abundant array of flowers from all over the world.

The traditional channel of distribution moves flowers from grower to broker, to wholesaler, to retailer, to the final consumer. Using appropriate care and handling techniques all along the route of distribution ensures both a quality product and longer vase life. National advertising by several companies in the floral industry helps retail florists sell more flowers, which benefits the entire floral industry.

Terms to Increase Your Understanding

advertising

advertorial

auction

broker

bud-opening solution

bunching

chemical solutions

cleats

conditioning

consumption

distribution channel

domestic market

dry-pack

exporter

final consumer

foreign market

grading

grower

hamper

harvesting

importer

packing

postharvest technology

precooling

producer

production

pulsing

rehydration

retailer

seasonal availability

shipper

shipping

sleeving

tinting

wholesaler

worldwide market

Test Your Knowledge

1. Name the major foreign countries that produce flowers for exporting.

2. What are the key considerations in harvesting fresh flowers?

3. What are factors that determine the grading of roses?

4. List the essential procedures that must be followed in conditioning flowers to ensure maximum quality and longevity.

5. Why is precooling important?

6. Explain the traditional distribution channel.

7. Explain the process and function of the Holland auction.

Related Activities

1. Visit a wholesale house in your area. Notice what care and handling procedures they use.

2. Visit a retail store. Volunteer to unpack and properly condition boxes of flowers delivered from the wholesaler. As you unpack the flowers, take note of where the flowers were grown or where they came from.

3. Visit a local grower and learn about harvesting techniques.

4. Search the Internet for floral websites. Compare helpful information, products, and prices.
TABLE 20-1 TYPICAL TIME FRAME OF FLORAL PRODUCTS FROM GROWER
TO RETAILER

By Truck

Day 1       Harvesting and conditioning
Days 1-2    Packing and shipping Days
Days 2-4    In transit
Days 3-5    Delivery to wholesaler
3-8         Delivery to retailer

By Air

Day 1       Harvesting and conditioning
Days 1-2    Packing and shipping
Days 2-4    Arrival at airport
Days 2-4    Arrival at wholesaler
Days 2-6    Arrival at retailer
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Title Annotation:Section 5 The Floral Industry
Author:Hunter, Norah T.
Publication:The Art of Floral Design, 2nd ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:5966
Previous Article:Chapter 19 Sympathy flowers.
Next Article:Chapter 21 The retail flower shop.
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