30 October 2019
Author: Marta Pizano
If PROFLORA 2019 were to be described in two words, they would be: simply vibrant. With 400 exhibitors and thousands of visitors, the Colombian trade show was a mix of bustling business networking and the most diverse, imaginative flower displays. This edition also marked several important anniversaries.
Two iconic, pioneers of the industry – Grupo Andes and Flores de los Andes – both celebrated 50 years of working in the business, whilst ASOCOLFLORES, the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters, celebrated its 45th year in operation and the 15th version of its renowned show in Bogotá.
The inauguration ceremony was packed with high profile dignitaries and key industry players including flower exporters from Colombia and other countries; buyers from around the world; journalists and every key supplier imaginable. Colombian President Ivan Duque also attended the ceremony and expressed not only the full-fledged support of his government for the flower sector, but also encouraged exporters to continue their quest in diversifying product offer by, for example, widening the cut foliage offer through incentives and improved logistics and strengthening new and emerging markets. “Let’s keep moving”, he said, “we should strive to double our exports over the next few years”. He continued, “Let’s look to the East, we have a free-trade agreement with Korea, that we should be using to its full potential; how is it possible that Ecuador is exporting double the quantity we are to China?”
Duque went on to assure Colombian flower growers that measures to address potential changes in exports to the UK (through Brexit) were being taken.
Interestingly, he also referred to the United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, a set of 17 indicators that the world has pledged to comply with by 2030. “Floriculture has a large connection with many of these,” he pointed out, adding, “empowering women, decent jobs, education, good health and well-being, sustainable production and partnerships to mention a few.”
Generational change and product diversification
Around the show, many familiar faces and long-time players were seen, but it was evident too that a lot of young people were in charge. Generational change has clearly taken over Colombian floriculture which, no doubt, contributed to the show’s dynamic atmosphere and its spirit of innovation and exploration for new markets. This could not have happened, however, without the far-sighted and strategic vision that has characterised the sector since its origins more than half a century ago.
Along with hundreds of new varieties, attractive cut foliage and completely new flower types were abundant. Colombia has really gone beyond the “staple” flowers of yore (roses, carnations, chrysanthemums) even though these are being constantly rebranded and were exhibited in an incredible array of colours, sizes and shapes. Diversification is a trend that has taken a clear hold and Alstroemerias (alstresias), Ranunculus, Lisianthus, Hydrangeas, Scabiosa, countless kinds of Proteas, Ptilotus and many more summer flowers and fillers now make up the product mix. Along with striking flower arrangements, consumer bouquets for every occasion were presented in every way imaginable. Dyed flowers, whether for special holidays or simply to give flowers a fun and different appearance, were also part of the picture.
Colombian flower industry is very much alive
Flower quality, always a crucial factor, is taking centre stage more than ever. Ensuring an optimum cold chain (whether flowers are shipped by air or sea) postharvest management; packing; preventing pest and disease interceptions on arrival; and of course ensuring that end consumers can enjoy their flowers for as long as possible, were all part of the conversation.
In short, the Colombian flower industry is very much alive. Presently reaching about 100 countries around the world and with exports nearing $1500 in 2018, the goal proposed by President Duque is no easy feat -but the industry may well get there!
Speaking at opening ceremony was Mr Ivan Duque, President of Colombia (centre).
Juana De La Torre, Ball SB receives the Best Stand Award from Asocolflores’ President Augusto Solano on behalf of her father, Joaquin.
Alstresia “tree” from Jardines de Los Andes in celebration of their 50th anniversary
Proflora’s quality competition.
 For information on SDGs See https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/