General Manager, Florius
Florius made several investments in Colombia during its first year. It purchased and leased 2,050ha of land in the Valley of Cauca close to the municipality of El Dovio. It also invested in Pereira Risaralda by buying a former newspaper factory. In terms of what makes Colombia an excellent place to grow and export flowers, the biggest factor is its geographical location and climate. Furthermore, logistics are well developed in Colombia, with a lot of connections to North America and other parts of the world. Similarly, the country is well connected by sea. We foresee an opportunity to ship flowers by sea from Buenaventura, which is our goal for 2021-2022. When we started planning the company’s move to Colombia, we looked at other regions. Bogotá and Medellín are the most popular markets, but we wanted to do something different. Also, our aim was to locate to an area which has better talent suited for our business. In a small city, it would be easier to get around and develop connections across the country. El Dovio and Pereira met all our criteria. At the end of the day, any company that brings jobs to any place in the world will benefit the entire community and everything around it. Our initial investment is set to provide 400 jobs, which will have a huge downstream effect on the community. Our goal is to create a good alliance with the community.
General Manager, Plazoleta Flowers
‘Perfection’ is a globally recognized brand that we developed between 2004 and 2005 to combat competitiveness loss due to revaluation. In the case of alstroemeria, the industry was accustomed to selling prematurely cut flowers because we believed that flowers would deteriorate in transport if we did not harvest them before they flowered. We realized Canadian alstroemerias were of superior quality and better size while we were used to exporting premature stems and flowers of lower quality. Then, we set out to match the quality of Canadian flowers, which was not difficult for us; the challenge was finding an ideal way to transport our products. When harvested at the proper stage of maturity, flowers receive more light and nutrients from the soil, and the color intensity of the flower increases when they receive more light. Increased size and color intensity helped us become more competitive in the international market. The packaging and harvesting system that we developed also allowed us to offer competitive prices. We managed to patent this system in Colombia and registered our trademark in certain destination countries. We also shared it with other flower farms so that the brand would be globally known as a Colombian one. We offered a sort of license to other flower farmers so that they could use our system and sell their flowers under our brand name. At present, five farms are selling under the same brand name, with one of them in Ecuador.
Local Area Manager, Latin America, Camila Camacho
Royal Flora Holland is the largest flower marketplace in the world. A cooperative formed by growers from all around the world, its most important involvement comes from the Netherlands, Kenya, and Ethiopia, respectively, followed by Italy, Spain, and Israel. In Latin America, Colombia and Ecuador are the most important sourcing areas. Royal Flora Holland decided to step into Latin America 12 years ago. We connect growers from Colombia and Ecuador with buyers from all around Europe, mainly Dutch exporters. Royal Flora Holland connects around 5,000 growers supplying all kinds of flowers and plants to 2,500 daily buyers through its different channels. The growers bring their flowers to our marketplace and use our logistics and sales channels to connect with buyers. We do not own the products; we simply provide services that help growers directly sell their products. In Colombia, carnations, roses, hydrangeas, tropical, alstroemeria, and summer flowers are the most popular. Colombia is recognized for its quality, large assortment, varieties, and year-round production. Customers look for products of excellent quality that are different from other production areas. Competition from Africa has become a concern because its production costs are lower. Our growers must be completely sure of the price they will get in the market, something that has been extremely difficult, because there is no fixed price on our clock sales.
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