Across the world, many industries are feeling the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic – and the flower industry is no exception. Flower providers are now facing a number of unprecedented problems, from increased financial strain to new logistical challenges due to regulations. But even before Covid-19, our industry was facing another, less obvious crisis: systematic underperformance across the entire chain. To survive and grow, industry players need to find ways of managing their supply chains efficiently, raising margins, and optimising overall performance levels, writesJeroen van der Hulst, owner and founder of FlowerWatchon his LinkedIn page.

Underperformance across the chain

After analysing thousands of bunches of fresh-cut flowers, we found that the quality of at least 20 percent is unacceptable due to systematic underperformance across the chain. There are dozens of areas of inefficiency: from poor packaging and gaps in the cold chain, causing increased heat exposure, to poor post-harvest practices at the farm.

This high level of inadequate products in our industry means we suffer substantial financial losses – in other words, there are huge opportunities for us to save and make money. In the worst scenarios, we discard low-quality flowers, increasing waste and reducing margins; or we sell them anyway, disappointing customers and getting bad reviews.

Neither of these options looks good for the industry. Fortunately, there is another solution to maximise the performance of your supply chain and eliminate unnecessary costs: standardised quality across the supply chain.

Also Read: Three real solutions for shortage of air capacity for flowers

How can standardisation help?

By standardisation, we mean the measures that can be implemented by each player in the industry across the supply chain, reducing inefficiencies and increasing quality. These steps need to be rooted in science-based, attainable, and quantifiable norms for every element of the chain, from farming, packaging, and freight forwarding, to cold chain management. With standardisation, the industry can move towards maximum quality, efficiency, and profitability, entering into a new future for flowers.

Standards in action: increasing vase life with the 500 degree hour norm

To highlight just how beneficial standards can be, here’s an example of a science-based, measurable, and achievable norm from FlowerWatch. Here we can see how the 500 degree hour norm can drastically changes the quality of flowers produced by reducing the loss of vase life through the chain.

Already embraced by key players throughout the industry, the 500 degree hour norm tracks temperature exposure across the supply chain. Central to this standard is FlowerWatch’s unique and proven concept of time-temperature exposure, which we express in degree hours. The number is the average temperature of a bunch of fresh flowers throughout the supply chain multiplied by hours (1 degree hour = 1 hour x 1° C). Each 500 degree hours reduces vase life by one whole day. So, reducing the number of degree hours from the moment a bunch of flowers is cut is vital to its vase life, as the graph below highlights:

Many supply chains fail to achieve this norm, yet we have evidence that 500 degree hours should be the minimum aim for our industry if we want to maximise vase life for our customers. By adopting FlowerWatch Quality Standards, you can reduce degree hour exposure, making sure your products are of the highest quality possible. And this is just one standard: there are dozens of steps that your company can take to maximize quality, efficiency, and your margins.

Also Read: Building a future-proof flower storage strategy

What you can do

Connect with your supply chain – growers, forwarders, buyers, importers – and make sure each link in the chain gets its own set of link-specific standards. Start implementing and get the supply chain optimized.

What FlowerWatch can do

By customising our service package to your company’s unique needs, from post-harvest practices to storage, we can help you reach or maintain the highest standards of excellence. We offer services aimed at enabling data-driven decisions through monitoring, and at optimizing your supply chain and maintaining first-rate quality through training and accreditation. With us, you can identify any weak links in your chain, give your team all the skills needed to adopt new standards, prove your excellence to others, before finding new ways to take your company to the next level.

To find out more about the exciting potential of standardization for changing the industry and transforming your company, download our whitepaper: ‘Setting a New Standard in Global Floriculture’.

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