The floral supply chain in 2021 and beyond

As the cut flower trade prepares for a post-Covid recovery, technology is helping businesses to meet client expectations.

As tokens of appreciation, love, and beauty, flowers hold an important meaning to us. But long before we pick our favourite bouquet from the florists, those blooms have already been on a remarkable journey, testing the complexities of the global floral supply chain.

The intricacies of this supply chain have been uniquely altered by the global pandemic. The interconnectivity of farmers, workers, wholesalers, aviation, florists, and supermarkets came under unprecedented levels of strain – all while suffering from withering demand. But digital infrastructure is providing a range of solutions, ensuring that supply chains are futureproofed, dependable, and primed to capitalise on returning demand.

Prior to the pandemic, demand had been blooming. The market for cut flowers, houseplants, and landscape greenery had been expected to grow by roughly 6.3% over the next five years. But the market wilted, suffering a 6.2% contraction from 2019, largely due to the pandemic.

Spring is traditionally the industry’s busy season, and as attentions turn to the resurgence of global economies, businesses are paying close attention to their supply chains, and the technologies they can utilise to achieve efficient and economical logistic solutions. DP World is leading this change with pioneering digital enhancements.

Preserving quality

One of the most important considerations to those involved within the logistics of floristry is the condition of the flowers, maintained by sustaining optimum conditions throughout their transit. To ensure that they reach the customer in pristine condition, temperatures must be continually observed to prevent climate fluctuations.

Since the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, “cold-chain” supply methods have become well known, yet our reliance on them goes beyond vaccination programmes. Technologies used to monitor their logistics could increasingly be utilised within everyday supply chains, along with enhanced utilisation of other technologies.

A quarter of the flowers sold in the EU are imported from outside of the region, mainly from Kenya, Ecuador, and Ethiopia. Throughout this journey, a stable temperature is a must. Storing the cut flowers at the right temperature, between two and four Celsius, keeps them fresh and fragrant for up to three weeks.

Since product mistreatment, such as fluctuating temperatures, at any stage of the supply chain affects the price of the flowers, the implementation of digital assets and infrastructure means that shipments can be monitored in an intelligent and efficient manner, resulting in less wastage and a higher operational efficiency.

Meeting customer expectations

Investment in smart technologies can help businesses to save costs and improve customer satisfaction. DP World are working to implement the benefits for businesses globally. Through work such as the collaboration with TradeLens, we are accelerating the shift towards digital integration within supply chains, bringing benefits to businesses across the globe.

Africa’s floriculture industry is one of the continent’s most lucrative industries, with Kenya being the biggest exporter, generating over $1 billion annually for the nation’s economy. Since the pandemic, demand for Kenya’s flowers has recovered to around 85% of previous levels, as European markets open up after lockdowns, providing opportunity for businesses to take advantage of new and transparent supply chain technologies.

Creating supply chain transparency through digitisation can boost both productivity and resilience in the industry, and DP World is well placed to help firms with this by creating agile and digitised supply chains on a truly global scale. For the floristry industry, this means improved transparency.

Businesses can prepare their supply chains for unexpected circumstances with digital transformation, taking advantage of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things. Digital transformation will help retailers make and execute decisions much more quickly, based on rapid changes in demand.

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