- Dutch flower conglomerate Royal FloraHolland has begun seeking a combined maritime and air cargo alternative to sole air transport, the Journal of Commerce reports.
- As maritime cold chains make vast improvements in reefer container and control technology, Royal FloraHolland is exploring the advantage of splitting transport between ships and planes, thereby cutting costs by 38% and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 87%.
- Though the amount of flowers transported by this method is not yet large enough to be considered a trend, a combined maritime and air transport method known as backhauling has recently begun to expand.
Shipping lines have been investing heavily in their refrigerated cargo capacity, hoping to capture a cold chain market that had long eluded them given the differences in time of transport between ships and airplanes.
Flowers, like fruits, are a perfect example of why this is the case: consumers place a premium on freshness of these items and any time delay, even in temperature controlled rooms, can cost the company. As a result, only 1.6% of the dutch company's exports cross an ocean (to the U.S.), while the rest are sold in Europe.
Of course, the shipping lines are not expanding their capacity to increase their market share of the flower market — other cold chain goods, like pharmaceuticals, are far less time-sensitive so benefit for the increased scale of transport maritime cargo offers.
Yet, as real-time visibility and temperature controlled capacity increases, flowers and food companies may begin to benefit from increased the scale as well. After all, demand for cold chain products is far more reliable than the demand for a manufactured good.