On arrival at Kenya’s biggest seaport, Mombasa, the container is loaded onto a ship for a voyage to Europe of around 30 days. Despite their lengthy journey, they will still be sold to European shoppers with a vase-life of about a week.
So, how is this possible?
The flowers will be kept at a temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius throughout the journey.
As well as controlling the temperature, the atmosphere system in the container reduces the oxygen level from 20% to 4%, while increasing the carbon dioxide level from 0.4% to 4%.
This technology is all part of the elaborate process of preserving the blooms for as long as possible.
This system stops all activity in the flowers and, as a result, the go into dormancy
A sophisticated tracking system allows staff from the shipping company to monitor the temperature, oxygen and CO2 levels throughout the journey.
Flowers are shipped in special containers that control temperature, oxygen and CO2 levels. But flowers destined for such a long voyage need extra attention to prepare them, as soon as they are picked.
They are harvested early in the morning, when it’s still cool and they will be the first to go into the cold room.
Freshly harvested roses, for instance, are then dipped into a chemical mixture to protect them from the fungus, botrytis. After that, the stems are put into buckets to absorb a hydration solution so they can survive the thirty days without water. They are also put in a solution that curbs the growth hormone, ethylene, which causes the ageing of the flowers.
Once that process is completed, the flowers are then packed into cartons with holes in the top and bottom, which allow air from the container’s system to circulate.
All processes around sea freight require extreme precision – there’s no room for shortcuts. One mistake and your flowers might arrive as compost.