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Some flowers are sent packed flat in boxes. This enables large amounts of flowers to be packed in small spaces like aircraft holds. Other flowers cannot survive for long periods out of water. These are either sent with their own little water holders on each stem end - for more expensive or tropical flowers - or are transported in buckets of water. The latter method extends the life of flowers and reduces labour time as flowers are ready for sale, but obviously also reduces the amount of flowers that can be transported as they are much heavier than dry-packed flowers and hence air transportation charges are higher.
Flowers take a number of routes to the consumer, depending on where they are grown and how they are to be sold. Some growers cut and pack flowers at their nurseries, sending them directly out to the consumer by mail order. Some flowers are sent to packing companies, who grade the flowers and arrange them in bunches for sale onto the supermarkets or to deliver by mail order. Some flowers are graded and sleeved by the growers and sold to wholesale markets; the wholesalers then sell them on to florists who condition and arrange the flowers for the consumer.
The following passage, taken from the USAID website, shows a glimpse of how improvements made to the storage and transportation aspects of the flower trade in Uganda resulted in huge improvement of the overall floral industry.
The time frame from when cut flowers leave the greenhouse to when they arrive at a cargo plane, the cold chain is vital to the quality of the product. Just how important the presecnce of a well-integrated cold chain is can be gaged by the substantial growth the Ugandan floral industry has achieved in the last few years.
The lack of cold storages often resulted in a poor quality end product. Ugandan flower traders till a few years back were shipping individually, dumping their flowers on the tarmac to rot in the sun.In 1997 USAID had helped build the cold store for Uganda´s Civilian Aviation Authority, which then became the focus of renewed effort to consolidate and strengthen the flower industry. Added technical assistance from USAID horticulture specialists is often credited with making flowers work in Uganda with the more than 4,600 tons of roses and chrysanthemum cuttings exported in 2003 cited as proof. Now direct flights of Ugandan flowers to Europe arrive at temperatures competitive with those of other regional suppliers, including Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe