It’s so easy to overlook the amount of work it takes to bring all the amazing flowers we love to use to our flower markets, and then to our shops and studios. With the fragility and perishability of flowers, it’s critical that flowers are cared for with tremendous care and efficiency. On my visit to Holland last fall with Joost of Florabundance Wholesale, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the world’s premier fresh cut flower export companies. Holex, which was founded in 1982, is located at the Aalsmeer Flower Auction and is a leader in exporting flowers worldwide.
Holex specializes in airfreight shipments of fresh cut flowers to destinations around the world. Their main markets are North America and Japan, but they also ship to the Middle East and China, as well as trucking to Russia and throughout Europe. Holex relies primarily on commercial airliners to transport their flowers—passenger planes have a strong record of leaving and arriving on time, which is critical for perishable product. Holex ships flowers to NYC seven days a week! They also ship flowers to hubs in Boston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. They can ship direct via FedEx through the hub in Memphis, TN, too.
The tour of the Holex facility is particularly impressive because of their proximity to the auction, which assures tremendous exposure to new and interesting varieties of flowers. One of the new varieties that caught my eye is spider amaranthus.
Because a perishable agricultural product is inherently risky, Holex takes the inspection process of flowers very seriously. While touring their facility I had the opportunity to witness a number of inspections. Every single bunch of flowers is looked at under lights and over white paper . The inspectors are searching for bugs, worms – any little creepy-crawly thing possible! The US and Japan have the strictest import laws on flowers, so shipments to these two countries are handled with utmost care. In fact, the Japanese government sends their own inspector to work at Holex to ensure premium quality. All flowers are first inspected at Holex, and then inspected again when they reach the port of entry in the US.
After the flowers go through the entire Holex process (they arrive, are photographed, inspected, cooled, and packed for orders) the final process happens—all flower boxes are placed in the cooler, at which point special machinery blows cool air into the boxes. (You know those holes you see at the ends of the flower boxes? That’s where the air is blown into the boxes to cool the flowers one more time before they embark on their travels!)
Holex specializes in the wedding and event business so they make a point of keeping florists informed about the product they’re ordering. To this end they’ve set up a special photography area where every single flower that comes through the door is photographed. All their photographs are uploaded onto a website and updated constantly. On average they take 500 new photographs every day! To view all these real-time images, sign up for an account on their website—it’s a great way to keep up with the incredible varieties of flowers available to us!