“On Valentine’s Day each rose can mean someone’s experience, someone’s statement, and someone’s marriage. Let’s say that these warehouses are going to spend 500 million different experiences.” This is how the logistic process of exporting flowers looks like Santiago Gómez de la Torre, CEO of Tabacarcen, the logistics center that consolidates the air cargo of the Quito airport.
As every year, these days, the pace of work in Tabacarcen is vertiginous to be able to fulfill the dispatches of roses to the entire planet.
From Cayambe (Pichincha), around 800 trucks travel every night to the collection center to travel to destinations such as the United States, Russia and the Middle East.
After Tabacarcen, the flowers are transported to the loading terminal. In this place, the workers wait for the boxes and perform the verification process, such as taking the temperature and measuring.
After that process, the boxes are placed in ‘pallets’. Large blocks are formed, which are accommodated with molds, according to the size and model of the aircraft. The box blocks go to a cold room and then, finally, be transported to the cargo plane for your trip.
The biggest movement these days makes the number of employees grow between 10 and 15%, says Luis Galárraga, Quiport spokesman.
Until last Thursday (January 31) since January 20, some 9,500 metric tons of flower cargo have been exported, according to Quiport. It is planned that by the end of the 2019 season it will be possible to surpass 18,000 tons. With that figure would break the record of last year: 17,400 tons. That is, an increase of 3.4% compared to 2018.
“It is an absolute record in comparison to what has been exported before on Valentine’s Day,” says Galárraga.
Saint Valentine represents between 28 and 30% of the annual sales of the floriculture sector. Hence its importance for Ecuadorian flower growers.
One of the novelties for this year is the arrival of Ethiopian Cargo. It is expected that the African airline will make its arrival today and make deliveries to different destinations.
At this time of the year, 97% of shipments correspond to flowers and the remaining 3% to other products, such as asparagus, pitahaya or guanábana.
Preserved or “eternalized” flowers also travel to meet the demand at this time. However, it still represents a marginal percentage of the total exports of the entire sector.
For example, the company Ecuagarden presented in September of last year an eternal flower that can be bathed in copper, silver and even gold. The firm sought to produce up to 100 stems per day of this product for Valentine 2019. They hope to have acceptance in markets such as Russia.
According to Expoflores, the objective of opening new markets like the Asian one has forced the national companies to a greater innovation in dyed flowers, as much in gypsophila (small white flowers) as in roses.
Last Friday, some boxes of eternal flowers were ready to fly to Germany. The customer can choose the color tone that he wants for his products.
It is estimated that an average of 12 daily flights depart with loads of roses these days for Valentine’s Day.
Red roses are the star product and most demanded in international markets for this date.
Quito airport is not the only exit door. It is also sent from Latacunga airport.
In total, before Valentine’s Day, it is expected that around 300 flights depart from Quito. (I)