Valentine Day 2021! and The Complexity of Flower Supply Chain

We all have waited for it. We all have started preparing for it many months before valentine’s Day. It is Valentine’s day 2021. For the Floriculture industry the most important floral holiday. The major chunk of revenue comes from Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day sales. It is the most important and busiest time for the flower industry…a complete madness. But there is methods to this madness. The breeders, the growers, the marketers, distributors, and logistic companies, wholesalers, and florist working their parts to convey the most beautiful emotions of Love with the most beautiful creation of God’s flowers. It is magic in itself that how Millions of stems travel, traded, change many hands and sell in form of beautiful arrangements to the final consumer in a single day and how beautifully all stakeholders come together and make it happen.

The biggest challenge we faced this year with Valentine’s Day flower is limited air space. Flowers are perishable products and transported in a cold chain. It is foremost to send flowers from point A to point B as fast as possible with a controlled temperature environment. Millions of stems are exported from Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador, and Colombia across the world, using air freight. Due to limited passenger airlines operating the demand for freight space is more than the supply. This resulted in offloads, delays in shipment arrivals, and complete cancellation of an order as it can not reach the destination well in time. This year we have faced the largest number of delays, some of the delays happened due to bad weather.

A good production, reasonably good demand was setoff by the higher prices and the delay in shipment because of lack of flights and storms few florists even received the frozen product in Europe. Brexit and paper works related to it was another challenge for flower importers in the UK. The new Phyto norm for the UK resulted in almost a day delay compared to last year, and tax on flowers makes it more expensive this year.

Shabistan Khan
Shabistan Khan

This is a tough year, and all the stakeholders have their share of challenges. By far this is the most challenging Valentine for me. Uncertainty about space booking, fear of offloads, missing the connecting flights, delay in shipments due to bad weather, are the nightmares of flower exporters, and all of these happened in the last ten days. Probably we have experienced the largest number of offloads and delays. We felt enormous pressure to ship all the orders in time. We managed that.
What I realize the communication is the most crucial in times like this. It is very important to communicate with the client in real-time and with complete transparency. Follow the shipment at every point of transit till it reached the client. Nothing matters more than assurance and truth to the client. There are orders we were not able to deliver due to last minutes cancellation of a flight. We must explain the situation to a client, try to work on alternatives, and if we could not ship the flowers, we should tell them as earliest as possible rather than informing them at the last minute. It puts the client in a difficult situation that will ruin your work relationship with the clients. It is critical to keep communication open and maintain the relationship with the clients. The COVID-19 will not stay forever, and everything will become normal sooner or later.

With all the uncertainties surrounding us, with all the circumstances beyond our control, we hope against all hope and believe in the power of Love. With All the challenges and Chaos, we still manage to spread the message of Love with our flowers. The lessons learned in Valentine 2021 will be remembered forever.

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