According to industry research, retail flower customers care a great deal about the quality, vase life and general condition of their flowers.
One report states that “design considerations add up to only about 10 to 15% of the total buying decision, whereas quality represents nearly two-thirds of the buying decision” (SAF Flower Care Manual).
If the flowers you sell don’t last as long as the customer expects them to, or as long as your competitor’s do, then you run the risk of losing that customer’s repeat business.
In other words, to build your reputation as the go-to florist, a core factor in your strategy should be an obsession with quality product. You want to purchase quality wholesale flowers that you know are going to last so that your customers come to rely on you as simply the best florist in town.
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Factors Affecting the Vase Life of Flowers
vase life of flowers is very dependent on the rate of transpiration while in storage and transit (transpiration is the loss of water vapor from plants). Transpiration is reduced by lower temperatures and keeping flowers in water. Delivery systems that use water have a very significant impact on the life of flowers.
Vase life is not affected by dry storage at temperatures below 8 degrees Celsius but at temperatures higher than this water is critical to the vase life of cut flowers. Temperatures higher than 8 degrees are hardly unusual in Australia and delivery trucks are almost never refrigerated.
The effect of temperature on gerberas, for example, is that vase life is extended by about 4 days for flowers when kept in water and temperatures are above 8 degrees Celsius. This is very relevant in Australia where the cool chain in transport systems is almost never maintained across the delivery system and florist shops have limited cooled display areas.
Flowers breeders have been working furiously to develop flowers that travel better and last longer. This should mean that customers can enjoy flowers that last longer but instead what often happens is that businesses along the cold chain (growers, exporters, importers, wholesalers, florists) often simply take longer to process the flowers or they are willing to sell them after they have been in their possession for longer.
This means that a bunch of roses that should have have lasted 3 weeks may only last the customer a few days because the flowers have simply taken a long time to get to the customer or have been subject to dehydration and heat.
Cold Chain Integrity
The other issue is cold chain integrity; the better the flowers are treated along the way the better the flower will be when it gets to the customer.
In practice, this means:
- transport and storage
- disease & fungal management
Flowers that are treated with a quality cool chain, may well last a lot longer than fresher flowers that have been subject to poor production, cool chain management and hygiene.
Historically flowers were grown in close proximity to their markets (on the fringes of cities) but were susceptible to variable weather conditions and seasons. Floral technologies in breeding, production, cool chain management and transport have revolutionized the production of flowers. Only very limited volumes of flowers are grown locally. The vast majority of flowers are now grown in specific parts of the world that have both the climate and logistical capability to supply the world.
50% of all the world’s flowers fly into and pass through Amsterdam and 85% of all flowers sold in the US arrive by air in Miami for distribution by refrigerated truck to the rest of the USA. These are the new superhighways of flowers that are now reaching Australia.
So how can you provide your customers with the freshest, long-lasting flowers?
Here are some questions you need to ask when choosing a wholesale flower supplier. Of course we wouldn’t be pointing this out if we hadn’t covered all these bases ourselves, so forgive us if this does come across as a bit of sales pitch!
How Long Have Your Flowers Been In Storage?
It isn’t an easy thing for a florist to know how many flowers to order. How are you supposed to know what you will sell tomorrow? The same goes for wholesalers.
With so many varieties on demand now the only way most wholesalers can deal with the issue is to keep a lot of stock on hand, which means that if it doesn’t sell quickly it may get sold to you with a reduced amount of vase life left.
To combat this problem, the team here at Tesselaars have created an exclusive, intelligent ordering system that can predict with great accuracy what we are likely to sell to Australian florists and commercial flower buyers in the immediate future. This enables us to order very tightly and move the stock very quickly.
So when you order from us, you know that the flowers haven’t been sitting in a cool room for weeks. You then have the opportunity to pass this extended value on to your customers.
How Hygienic Are Your Flowers?
Another factor is hygiene, which is all about reducing fungus and other diseases that reduce flower quality. Here at the Tesselaar’s warehouses we chlorinate the buckets used to store the flowers to make sure no diseases get transferred. We include preservatives and (an Australian first) a special “tea bag” which contains nutrients and an anti-ethylene to ensure the health and longevity of the cut flowers during storage and delivery.
How Have Your Flowers Been Handled?
It is pretty obvious that unless your flowers get handled with care they are very susceptible to damage. Tesselaar’s staff are all trained florists with years of experience in handling flowers correctly to keep those petals safe and sound. We also have propriety tools to protect your flowers, like our patented Gerbera holders which keep each flower separate, protecting the petals.
Do Your Flowers Get Delivered in Water?
The importance of keeping and delivering cut flowers in water is by now clear to you but over distances other than very local, most Australian flower wholesalers simply cannot do this – but guess what?
You guessed it – here at Tesselaar Flowers we deliver your cut flowers in water!
We have developed highly efficient and robust packing systems using specialized Procona buckets with protective cardboard uppers to protect the flowers. Into the water goes the preservatives and the magic Tea Bag and those little guys stay cool, well-fed and disease free all the way to your place!
Written by Steve White (CEO, Tesselaar Flowers) & Seamus Ennis
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