Ocean transport of Sian Flower’s produce helped the company overcome the pandemic-induced volatility in air freight rates while helping it achieve its sustainability goals.

The customer

Sian Flowers is a leading Kenyan producer of high-quality roses and summer flowers, exporting their blooms to Europe, the United States, the UAE and Australia.

The company has won regional and international recognition for pursuing rigorous sustainable practices, including limiting the use of pesticides and the conservation and treatment of water. In addition, Sian is Fair Trade Certified, paying great attention to the welfare of workers and the community.

The challenge

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Sian Flowers’ supply chains, especially to Europe, were impacted, as it was for other players in the industry.

Fewer flights were operating to western markets, and space on board was limited, making it difficult to secure space for Sian’s entire cargo, which resulted in wastage of produce. Air freight rates had also become prohibitively expensive, which had an impact on margins.

Everyday challenges were disrupting the seamless movement of their sensitive flowers too – multiple touchpoints between the farm and port jeopardized the vase life of their cut flowers.

These issues notwithstanding, Sian was committed to environmentally sustainable practices and believed they needed to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Maersk solution

Maersk’s team in Kenya devised an end-to-end cold chain solution that facilitated the easy movement of the cut flowers from Mombasa to Rotterdam by ship instead of plane.

These included:

  • A cold room facility in Nairobi
  • Cold storage of loose cartons in cages
  • Palletisation, stuffing and booking services
  • Trucking from Alpha to Mombasa
  • Customs brokerage at Mombasa and Rotterdam
  • Trucking from Rotterdam port to Aalsmeer
  • Deconsolidation services in the Netherlands (de-stuffing, sorting and storage)

Operating twice a week from Mombasa, Maersk shipping vessels transports the refrigerated cargo to Rotterdam in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) containers providing Sian with control over gas levels in the container while their flowers are in transit on the ship.

Lady checking the Maersk App

Captain Peter, Maersk’s proprietary digital visibility assistant, offers Sian remote monitoring of the temperature and humidity levels in the container along the journey, enabling them to act to maintain the CA containers’ conditions intact. One of the most important aspects of the ocean solution and conducive to maintaining the freshness of the flowers on arrival at destination is the reliability of our ocean schedule times, which we guarantee, as well as the offer of long-term freight rates that could lend stability to Sian’s finances in a volatile environment.

The result

Sian’s delicate flowers have been traveling seamlessly and reliably across Kenya, thanks to fewer touchpoints and a single point of contact. All their cargo is allocated space on board Maersk’s Ocean vessels, which has become a viable alternative to air freight.

The flowers continuously arrive fresh to the Netherlands, where logistics is efficiently coordinated ensuring the flowers reach markets on time and enjoy a good vase life. Sian has also been able to achieve a near-90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with ocean transport.

Maersk being the world’s largest shipping line and one of the biggest logistics companies in the region, had the capability to guarantee the delivery of our flowers in good time and monitor the quality of produce as it travelled for weeks by sea.

Christopher Kulei
Managing Director, Sian Flowers Group of Farms

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