Blooming business for IAG Cargo
Valentine’s Day is good business for florists around the world, but for key Latin American flower producers business, generally, is booming, according to data from IAG Cargo.
Preliminary figures from IAG Cargo, the merged freight business of British Airways and Iberia, show that flower volumes from the important markets of Colombia and Ecuador have increased by about 25 percent on last year’s peak season, reflecting increased consumer confidence in Europe.
“While flower shipments have been relatively stable during the economic downturn, the initial data, for our LATAM Airlines Group cargo flows, shows an increase on last year,” says David Shepherd, global head of commercial at IAG Cargo.
“Flowers are one of the most resilient products we transport, and since the economic downturn we have actually seen flower volumes grow, not decrease. We now boast some of the best floral facilities in the world to help get Valentine’s Day flowers to market looking as fresh as the day they were picked,” he adds.
According to IAG Cargo, the increase in the volume of flowers carried from Ecuador is also related to the direct operations from Quito to IAG Cargo’s hub in Madrid that started in 2013. This is supported by a three percent increase in flowers being transhipped through IAG Cargo’s Heathrow hub in the first week of February compared to the same period in 2013.
To ensure that flowers from Latin America arrive in as fresh a condition as possible, IAG Cargo has been investing in its specialist Constant Fresh infrastructure in Madrid airport. “The facilities now operate at a steady 2°C (instead of 8°C, which had previously been the lowest temperature available) helping to keep perishables in good condition,” says IAG Cargo. The improvements also include the installation of compressors and evaporators both inside and outside the building where flowers are stored.
IAG Cargo is looking to expand its flower handling business in Madrid, targeting buyers in France, the Netherlands and other key European centres. While flowers are carried by IAG Cargo throughout the year, flower shipments peak in the run-up to All Saint’s Day (November 1), Valentine’s Day (February 14) and Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom (March 13). Other high traffic dates for flower shipments include St George’s Day, honouring Barcelona’s patron saint on April 23, and the day of the Virgin of the Pillar on October 12.