Freight carrier British Airways World Cargo said it flew in and processed 25% more roses in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day than a year earlier.
The company was conditioning and wrapping 50,000 stems a day during the key run-in period, said BAWC’s global perishables manager Gerry Mundy.
Growers in Colombia and Kenya, and importers in the UK, were queuing up to use the company’s facilities because of the technology in place at BA’s perishables handling centre at Heathrow, he said.
A £30,000 automated trimming, bunching and conditioning facility, installed 18 months ago, was driving the demand, he said.
Mundy added: “Flowers are very volatile and their shelf life is time and temperature-critical.
“If they are not handled well, then you can be left with a mass of product in poor condition.
“We can save two days of shelf life by bunching, wrapping and labelling flowers here instead of trawling them half way across the country before they even get a drink. In fact, we handle the flowers so well that people were clamouring to work with us this year.”
The cargo of stems can touchdown at 5am and be ready for dispatch to retailers and wholesalers by 11am the same day, said Mundy.
Mundy said the perishables handling centre was gearing up for another busy period with the approach of Mother’s Day on March 6.