The need to reduce the carbon footprint is necessary because packaging of the flowers for transportation is an important aspect of the value chain, as it also helps maintain the product’s integrity till the end. While the stakeholders in Amsterdam, Netherlands have taken the necessary steps ahead of the season, in Africa, Nairobi-based Silpack is doing its part too. It is an active and instrumental part of the packaging industry for flowers and just like any other industry, the Kenyan company was affected with the Covid-19 pandemic. Parit Shah, managing director, Silpack, says the scarcity in air freight capacity has been one of the key impacts of the pandemic, because of which it has brought forward the long overdue shipments by sea, and storage of flowers at origin and destination. This, however, has kept Silpack busy as they participated in numerous projects to provide the necessary and appropriate designs and specifications for the packaging material. He highlights, “There has been the need to carefully select packaging that balances weight to performance. The sky high air freight costs have convinced a lot of exporters to use our Soliq Air boxes to save on air freight.” With the continued uncertainty in 2021, Shah thinks it is also the best opportunity for innovation and research in the flower packaging business. “This season has also changed the stakeholders are approaching packaging as there has been a clear shift towards the use of premium packaging products instead of the economical options,” he says.

However, with the uncertainty there is an increasing need for forecasting and like many others, Silpack is constantly engaging with their customers to understand if they can help them with forecasts and if they are noticing any changes that will be helpful to cater better.

Coming into this season, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will not only have the support of the Holland Flower Alliance, which includes the airport along with Royal FloraHolland and KLM Cargo, but also the Circular Plastics Alliance. In August 2020, Schiphol Airport and Circular Plastics Alliance partnered with each other to help develop sustainable solutions for flower importers and to make their shipping solutions better. The Alliance has made standardised boxes with the help of recycled plastic and is aiming to reduce importers carbon footprint by 25 per cent and also increase their profitability by 25 per cent at the same time. This has certainly set the tone for the preparations for the African flower season now.

2021 Valentine
It is that time of the year when the air freight industry is buzzing about getting ready to transport flowers from Africa to Europe. However, this is unlike any other year in the recent past because of the Covid-19 pandemic and this time around many cargo carriers not only have the necessity to allocate their resources but also the responsibility to help the world and vaccine manufacturers to combat the pandemic. It is a difficult time for them to make the most of the season but flowers have always held a special place in the lives of people and always manage to bring joy to all. All said, this is the time to get your packaging right.