Ecuador will send abroad 15 000 tons (t) of flowers to meet the demand of Valentine’s Day. The sector also has a new boarding point this year thanks to the resumption of cargo flights at the Cotopaxi International Airport.
The export figure represents an increase of 1,000 tons in relation to the shipment that was made for the same holiday in 2018. Despite this, the floriculturists expect a similar amount of income, said Alejandro Martinez, CEO of Expoflores.
The hot weather that occurred during this rainy season advanced the production in the flower farms and as a result there is an abundance of flowers in the market. Due to the large amount of production the price fell, explained Gino Descalzi, general manager of the Fiorentina Flower plantation.
In addition, production costs are still a disadvantage for the sector. “These grow every year, not the sale prices of the flower,” said Pablo Viteri, manager of the flower grower Pacific Bouquet.
For more than ten years, export companies have been set up in this company, both for the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, mainly. These arrangements represent 30% of the exportable supply of the floriculture. They follow the roses ‘spray’ and the summer flowers.
The activity of logistics and cargo for the shipment of the production started on January 20 and intensified since this week at the airports of Quito and Latacunga. Flowers arrive at the ‘consolidators’, located at the capital’s airport.
In this place the harvest that comes from the farms of the country meets to meet the total order. 92% corresponds to roses, which are the most valued and quoted in international markets at this time. At the cargo terminal, workers wait for the boxes.
They nimbly lower them from the vehicles, weigh them, measure and take the temperature. The product is immediately placed in ‘pallets’. One by one, the packages are forming large blocks, which are accommodated with molds, according to the size and model of the aircraft, explained Roy Cisternas, general manager of Servipallet.
Another group of employees wait for cargoes in the cold room. On this site, the packages remain for about an hour and a half, until they can be shipped. On the afternoon of last Wednesday, four cargo planes waited for the flowers on the runway of Mariscal Sucre Airport, in Tababela.
The shipment began to climb the Boeing 747 of KLM. This aircraft has a capacity of 100 tons, but in the case of flowers, because the boxes are more bulky, about 90 are transported, explained Xavier Tufiño, the airline’s chief of operations.
The flowers were destined for Amsterdam (Holland) and, later, they will be transported by land to Russia, said Tufiño. In total, before Valentine’s Day, it is expected that around 300 flights will depart from Quito with cargo and 6 from Latacunga, said Quiport and Expoflores.
The markets that await Ecuadorian roses are the USA, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Qatar, among others. For this time an increase of the transport of flowers of the 3 to 6% is expected, in relation to the last year; that is, about 18,000 tons, said Luis Galárraga, Quiport spokesman.
Valentine represents between 28 and 30% of annual sales. Hence its importance for Ecuadorian flower growers. Naranjo Roses exports natural roses, preserved and dyed, but the first ones -of red color- are the ones in greatest demand at this time.
This flower shop has 50 hectares of roses in Cotopaxi. 30% of the shipments come from that province, south of Machachi and Tungurahua. Carlos Gómez, owner manager of Naranjo Roses and vice president of the Floricultores del Sur Corporation, comments that the sector looks forward to the reactivation of Latacunga airport, after one year and 10 months of cessation of operations.
The union plans to increase routes and create a cargo consolidation zone, to avoid going to Quito for the service. The firm Aerocaribe offers cargo flights to Colombia since January 15. (I)