How to pack flowers for export
More than 20% of flowers sent by growers never reach the final consumer in the export market. Flower packaging is very important for export.
More than 20% of flowers sent by growers never reach the end consumer in the export market because they are lost or damaged at various stages of the distribution chain. Losses of flowers can be reduced by packing flowers, ensuring more accurate transportation, better temperature regulation, paying attention to plant health requirements, and using appropriate maintenance agents.
Since flowers and plants are living and growing organisms, they have a limited lifespan. Therefore, appropriate methods must be adopted to ensure that product evolution is controlled during the shipping process. Choosing an export package, appropriate to the product as well as the distribution network and market, is important for export success.
In this article, we examine the important points that you should consider in the export of flowers and ornamental plants or potted flowers.
Factors affecting the packaging of flowers for export
During the export process, the package and its contents are exposed to various stresses, the effect of which is the gradual reduction of the strength of the package and its ability to protect the product.
These stresses are of two basic types: mechanical on one hand and physical and chemical on the other.
This is directly related to transportation and storage, which includes impact, degradation, compression and vibration.
The distribution chain for flower export may not be just a few thousand kilometers long and one or two transportation operations. In most cases, the transportation network consists of a long route of road, air, and sometimes sea or rail transportation connections.
As a result, there are many stresses and risks that flowers and their packaging are exposed to. In addition, the stresses have a cumulative effect, thus significantly reducing the pack resistance during travel. So the flower packaging should be designed to withstand all these forces.
Physical and chemical stresses
The lifespan of floral products varies depending on the species, but is generally short. Especially with cut flowers because potted plants are much more resistant.
Therefore, the design of export packaging should take into account the various risks that products are exposed to in order to limit their effects. These factors include: heat, cold, humidity, humidity and drying.
The cumulative nature of these stresses on the product has effects on the durability of the packaging.
How to package flowers in different countries
Importing countries differ based on the requirements of flower packaging according to factors such as packaging dimensions, arrangement of products in the container, number of units or batches, packaging color and label.
For example, after receiving a package of flowers, importers in the Netherlands usually open the box, soak the flowers in water for several hours to refresh them, and then repackage them for the retail market.
The original packaging is not kept, instead a new packaging is used which is printed with the importer's trademark and colors.
Another example of the difference in packaging requirements is for roses imported into France. The French market requires that the buds be of the same height in a single bunch. In most other countries, buds are arranged in a graduated manner. As a result, the diameter of the handles sold in France is larger than elsewhere.
Therefore, cartons of flowers going to the French market will have fewer bunches than other markets.
Features of flower packaging for export
The export package of floristry items should be rationally designed (optimal use of available space without overloading or damaging flowers or foliage) in such a way that it contains a predetermined number of product units or pre-made packages. to accommodate
Suitable for transportation
The main packaging characteristics of the material, dimensions and weight must be suitable for all the different types of transport used during the export operation.
Since the risk of damage to flowers and foliage increases with the amount of movement, the movement process should be reduced. Palletizing is a simple means of achieving this goal and its use should be strongly encouraged. Therefore, the main dimensions of the selected export packages should preferably correspond to the dimensions of the pallet, which in turn should have dimensions compatible with the transport equipment.
In the design of suitable packaging for all types of transportation methods, ventilation, air circulation, and load height are other important considerations for flower and foliage export.
The type of presentation of flower packaging
Most importing countries have standards or recommendations regarding the identification and presentation of flower and plant products. Any manufacturer or exporter wishing to trade internationally should be familiar with these and fully comply with them.
It is usually said that packaging should act as a marketing factor for sales. While this rule applies specifically to the packaging of consumer goods sold in retail stores, all packaging plays a role in the sales promotion function at every stage of the distribution process.
Especially in the marketing of cut flowers, exporters should strive for an attractive brand image by using a simple but impressive message that includes an attractive color choice, a suitable appearance of the outer packaging, suitable colors and graphics for the text and images on it. do
Identification marks on the carton must be legible, which is often not the case in Iran. It is important that the floral product ID is printed or clearly marked on labels. Labels must be placed correctly on the package.
Using fiber board
Corrugated fiberboard is the most widely used material for transporting cut flowers to foreign markets. The main reason for the success of this material is its suitability for carrying, moving and storing these products in terms of strength, lightness and economy. Exporters of floral items should have enough information about the packaging materials themselves, the most used types of boxes and their different features in terms of shape and components.
Fiberboards consist of at least one outer liner and one inner liner that are in contact with the packaged goods and are separated by a flute. Floating helps make the carton more resistant to pressure and crushing, while liners help packages to withstand mechanical stress (shock, drop, compression, puncture) by resisting bending and tearing and bursting and compression. and resist moisture.
Kraft paper made from coniferous wood pulp is the most suitable lining material because it has high tear resistance and low moisture absorption. Some manufacturers offer lower quality paperboard made from recycled paper, straw, bagasse, bamboo or other secondary materials. Due to their tendency to absorb moisture, these materials make the packaging less resistant, especially in wet conditions.
Therefore, it is not recommended to use them to produce fiber cartons for transporting fresh flowers or foliage to foreign markets, unless other materials are not available.
Paper, which is mainly made from plant fibers and especially wood, is a hygroscopic material that tends to absorb moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. Some of the goods that are packed have a high degree of moisture that can affect the packaging. This is true for fresh flowers and foliage.
Processing the interior surfaces of fiber boxes with wax-based or polyethylene emulsion products effectively reduces moisture absorption from the package contents. This method may be suitable for certain types of flowers. However, it is mainly used to transport foliage types that are soaked in water before packaging to ensure their freshness during several weeks of sea transportation.
While the above coverage method is useful, it is also costly. Some exporters may want to choose another solution, for example, using polyethylene packaging inside the boxes.
Ventilation inside the package can be an important element in maintaining the quality of cut flowers, especially when refrigeration is used to delay their natural flowering. The number of holes in the box and their shape (round, oval or other shape), their size and position should be calculated to provide adequate ventilation without significantly reducing the mechanical strength of the package.
It is important to ensure that certain species of flowers are not exposed to low temperatures, as may be encountered in Europe and the United States during winter.
In addition to the special protective measures that must be taken during shipping, handling and storage, the number of ventilation holes may be limited for this purpose. This can be achieved, for example, by using boxes with small openings that allow the packer to manually ventilate when needed.
Material of flower packaging for export
The packaging material is very important in maintaining the quality of flowers exported by land, air and sea. European countries usually use the best types of flower arrangements to export their flowers to other parts of the world. To learn more about the types of packaging materials and choose the best type, stay with Sapid Sazeh.
As mentioned above, fiber boxes are generally the most suitable packaging for international marketing of fresh cut flowers and foliage, as well as certain types of plants and green cuttings. However, if an exporting country finds it difficult to source such boxes for technical or economic reasons, wooden materials can be a good alternative.
Since wooden packaging is widely used in other horticultural sectors, especially for fresh vegetables and fruits, such packaging can also be adapted to the flower and foliage market.
Features of wooden packaging include:
The bottom or sides should usually have an open structure to enable air circulation and keep products fresh.
The packages used in series must have the same size and model so that they can be integrated and provide the possibility of sorting and grouping them in single loads (palletizing).
Adequate vertical compressive strength should be provided.
Packaging should facilitate transportation throughout the distribution chain, especially at the point of sale.
It should be attractive.
Containers made of plastic materials are not usually used for transporting flowers. Exceptions include coated expanded polystyrene cases designed for air transport of green plant cuttings. This style of box is more suitable for test shipments than for continuous use.
In the field of injection molded plastics, flower containers can be designed along the lines of boxes used by some exporters to transport fresh fruit and vegetables.
Since export packaging is usually irreversible, but plastics are made from petroleum products, it seems unrealistic to consider or recommend this type of packaging for such exports at this time.
In many exporting countries, waste paper or old newspaper is used as a means of protecting the contents of the package, either as an immediate packaging for flowers or bouquets or, after conversion to paper fibers, as cushioning or insulation for floristry items. it works. This type of packaging is not attractive at all!
Importers in leading markets all agree that the supply of imported flowers and foliage needs to be improved and waste paper replaced with clean materials made from wood fibres, paper or plastic. At the same time, they are fully aware of the additional costs associated with these materials and therefore accept current practices without objection.
However, attractive inner packaging can make a quality product more appealing. This is especially important in competitive markets.
Exporters should compare different packaging alternatives, study the associated costs, and analyze the potential results that may be achieved by better presentation when considering whether to upgrade their packaging materials.
Packaging sells the product! When faced with a pleasant or unattractive appearance, the buyer unconsciously creates a similar image of the flowers or foliage inside. In presenting flower exports, two elements should be considered: the box itself and the print on the box.
Boxes may be white as a result of bleaching of the outer paper of the corrugated board. White boxes are more attractive and the print on them is shown more clearly. However, they are more expensive and bleached papers have less strength than unbleached papers of the same material.
In addition, the white surface is easily scratched and marked and thus requires extra precautions to keep it clean, both at the packing station and during subsequent handling.
In deciding on the outer appearance of the package, the exporter must have information on the following:
Does the product remain in the original packaging until it reaches the retail store (the normal situation), or is it reopened and "refurbished" by the importer before being repackaged in new boxes? (as is often the case in the Netherlands).
Packaging of potted plants
Potted plants need special care during the entire transportation process. The choice of export packaging for them depends on several factors: the abundance of foliage, the flexibility of the stems and leaves, and any tendency to knot during transport.
Without protection, plants may be exposed to cold weather and become damaged or die. Damaged plants produce more ethylene, which may cause their leaves to turn yellow, fade, or drop. Ethylene exposure prevents the flowers of flowering plants from opening and wilting or dropping.
Green plants should never be transported or stored with fruits, vegetables, or cut flowers, as these produce ethylene as well. In addition, flowering plants should always be transported separately from green plants.
If flowering or fruiting green plants are exported in containers, any flowers or fruit must be removed from the plants prior to shipment.
Green plants should be transported at a temperature between 15°C and 18°C with a relative humidity between 85% and 90%. Recommended temperatures can vary for specific plants depending on the duration of the trip.
For most green plant species native to warm countries, low temperatures pose the worst threat as they may cause wilting of plants or yellowing of leaves.
However, if the temperature is too high, the plants will produce more ethylene and as a result the humidity will decrease and the plants will dry out. Considering this, it is recommended to put a thermometer in the container to check the temperature during the trip. These measures are mainly applied to road transport.
Marking on the boxes of potted plants is of particular importance. In addition to the origin and destination, the boxes must carry a warning that they contain live plants that are fragile and perishable. It is equally important to clearly mark the boxes with the recommended upper and lower temperature limits and to indicate the top and bottom of the package using directional arrows.
As you read in this article, we mentioned the methods of maintaining flowers and potted ornamental plants and necessary measures for road, air and sea transportation.
In Iran, proper measures are not taken for the storage and packaging of plants, but it is necessary to pay special attention to this matter in order to have something to say in the field of exporting flowers and indoor and ornamental plants.