Schiphol in bloom

Roos Bakker

With Valentines Day comes a surge in demand for cut flowers but this year is slightly different in terms of flower cargo, Roos Bakker, director of business development cargo at Schiphol Airport, explains.

Although some supply chains have broken down during the pandemic, perishables and cut flower transportation has stayed strong and fortunately, Covid vaccine distribution is not affecting the flower market.

“Fresh flowers is a long contracted, regular cargo therefore [vaccine transport] will have a minimal effect,” explains Bakker.

“We expect the distribution of COVID vaccines will have more of an effect on the ad hoc market a/o handling.”

Although the flower market has stayed stayed afloat during the pandemic, cut flower volumes are far from what they were last year. But Bakker notes that the sector “is on its way back and recovering.”

In 2019, fresh cut flower imports to Schiphol, totalled 223,484 metric tons. From January to November 2020, this number was 171,435.

“Valentine’s day is coming which is of course a very important moment for the flower market. Although shops are mostly closed, the demand for buying flowers is still high,” explains Bakker.

However, despite the promising figures, romantics should order their flowers pronto to avoid disappointment.

“As a result of the ad hoc market and less passenger flights there will be a shortage, but the freighters are doing a lot to accommodate demand,” Bakker adds.

Schiphol, as part of the Holland Flower Alliance, is also developing a track and trace app for flower shipments to provide more visibility in the supply chain.

“This will provide real-time information about the status (temperature etc.) of the flowers from farmer to auction. We will be sharing more details about this project in the coming months,” said Bakker.