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Improving the flowers cold chain

Flowers and plants are shipped through various marketing channels at temperatures that are often too high, resulting in increased shrinkage, disappointed customers, and decreased profits for all segments of the floral industry. To address and this situation and provide suggestions for improvements, a White Paper was prepared by the US Perishables Research Organization…

This White Paper was then discussed at two PRO Institutes held in California by representatives of 47 floral companies and organisations in attendance. Key recommendations that resulted from these discussions, include:
• Cut flowers and potted plants (except for tropical species) should be cooled rapidly to proper temperatures (normally around 1°C) and maintained at appropriate temperatures (no higher than 5°C) throughout the cold chain.
• Purchasers (mainly large wholesalers and mass marketers) must drive improvements in flower and plant temperature management during distribution (demand-pull).
• Time/temperature indicators that have been proven effective for floral crops or data loggers should be required in all shipments to document cold chain issues.
• Day-ahead flower and plant ordering by purchasers and/or day-ahead flower and plant harvesting by growers is required for many crops to ensure that adequate time is available to cool the products prior to transportation.
• Transportation and/or third party companies should offer precooling services as profit centres to ensure that all boxed flowers and plants placed in trucks are at 0-5°C.
• Cut flower heads and potted plant growing media must be probed, temperatures recorded, and results made available to grower, shipper, wholesale, retail, and transportation companies in a timely manner, perhaps by third party inspectors.
• Flowers and plants that are over 5°C should not be transported and must either be cooled to the proper temperature prior to being transported or returned to the shipper.
• The industry should identify and publicize grower, shipper, transportation, wholesale, and retail companies that have adequate low temperature facilities and utilise them properly.
• Proper production procedures need to be implemented to prepare flowers and plants for the rigors of marketing.
• Growers and/or shippers should ensure that flowers and plants are properly treated with appropriate anti-ethylene, anti-yellowing, flower foods, and/or anti-transpirant products to improve product outturn.
• The industry must invest in the equipment needed to ensure adequate initial cooling and to prevent breaks in the cold chain.
• To achieve the above, the floral industry must inform all industry segments that there is a cold chain crisis.
• Educate all industry segments about the crisis so that they will participate in solving it.
• Encourage all industry segments to take action, especially the purchasers (wholesalers and mass-market retailers).

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