Handling of Cut Flowers for Export
In the past thirty years, the market for cut flowers has become a global one; flowers and cut foliage sourced from throughout the world are sold as bunches or combined into arrangements and bouquets in the major target markets, such as North America, Japan, and the EU. The high export value of cut flowers has led to dramatic increases in production in many countries, and particularly Colombia. Production of cut flowers and foliage can be highly profitable in countries with an ideal growing environment (particularly those close to the equator where the environment is uniform throughout the year), and low labor costs. The costs of establishing production in the field or even in plastic houses are relatively modest, and harvest may start within a few months of planting. Because of this global production system and marketplace, and the high perishability of cut flowers, air transport has been the transport system of choice. The purpose of this bulletin is to provide information on the factors that affect the postharvest life of cut flowers and foliage, to indicate critical control points in the export logistics that impact the life of these delicate products, and to suggest best practices for ensuring optimal out-turns during marketing.