As part of a large manufacturer of cuttings and starter materials, Palki from Guatemala, the Lier-based company PlantasGT is delighted to be using the Trade Services provided by Container Centralen. “The collaboration in this pool is a genuine step forwards for us and our business operation, and has provided added value in various areas”, says director Eric Stolze. “We have benefited on a whole range of levels.”
PlantasGT supplies cuttings and starter materials from Guatemala to Dutch and European growers who then cultivate fully grown products. This includes cactuses, aloe vera, snake plants and, of course, beaucarneas. The subsidiary of Palki works according to the same core values as the parent company; professional and top-quality deliveries, a proactive and reliable approach, and respect for both man and the environment. In an honest, transparent and sustainable manner. “With our approach, you have to find a good fit with your partners. We always look for parties with the same drive in terms of strategy and sustainability. And we certainly found those with Container Centralen.”
“The collaboration with Container Centralen came about as a result of several factors. Firstly, the need for our company to comply with phyto-sanitary regulations. As a result of climate change and increasing trade, the European Union is increasingly having to deal with new threats to the flora and fauna in Europe. That is why businesses that trade in, import or export plants and plant-based materials must comply with a huge range of measures relating to the materials they use. We used to use wooden crates. But insects and other organisms are more likely to use these as their homes than an iron crate, making it no longer viable for the longer term. So, I was on the lookout for crates made of a different material. Sustainability is also an important aspect for us. You must work within and according to the prevailing law and regulations both at home and abroad. This is required by your market and customers and you are accountable in this regard.
Wood is also just too expensive to use in the quantities we are talking about. We were put in touch with Container Centralen via one of our customers, Fachjan from Honselersdijk. Fachjan is a perfect example of sustainable and innovative business practices. We know that if they recommend something, it is sure to be good. And that turned out to be the case with Container Centralen too.”
Keep your eye on the ball
“As a producer of starter materials, we could not make use of the facilities in a pool construction, provided by the Flora Holland flower auction. These are provided for suppliers and customers of end products only, who are also members of Flora Holland. Container Centralen has capitalised on this issue, however, and we have benefited as a result. In Europe, they have long had an efficient pool construction, which has now been expanded worldwide.
Because I am a participant in the pool, I no longer have to worry about the maintenance, repair or storage of the trolleys/ load carriers. During the implementation of the system, the employees were incredibly focused on finding us the right solutions. They never once said ‘we can’t’, applied a very flexible approach, and were always happy to cooperate with us on finding a suitable solution. Just perfect!
When we have enough trolleys on our balance, a sea container is loaded and shipped to Guatemala. My trolley balance is maintained and updated by the system and I know where my trolleys and plates are at all times. There is also always the option to add trolleys from a depot. The system takes these concerns off my hands, provides reassurance and also saves me time. As a result of the long distance involved, a ship may be at sea for as long as 10 weeks. So, it is wise to keep your eye on the ball, despite all the facilities offered by the CC pool. I try hard to never say ‘no’ to my customers, so we always aim to find the most sustainable methods for transporting our cuttings and starter materials.
In terms of the future, we will work with Container Centralen to develop loading carriers for heavier starter materials, such as yuccas, our main product, perhaps in the form of pallets that can be used in a worldwide pool just like the trolleys. The options are ideal for our lighter cuttings at the moment, but we would like to transport heavier cuttings in the same practical and efficient manner.”
Back on track
“I’ll be honest”, says Eric, “In contrast to previous financial crises, the current COVID-19 pandemic has not really done us any harm. I have been in the flower and plant trade for around 30 years and this is an unprecedented situation. After the first shock and trade being brought to a practical standstill, however, we are now back on track in terms of work.
It seems that consumers are more eager than ever to create a cosy space for themselves and this includes greenery and plants. Plants in the home help to purify the air and add a welcoming, green touch to an interior and that is precisely what people need right now. It is great that we can make a contribution in this context.”
The logical, sustainable step
“In the plant and flowers sector, we are already focussed on issues of sustainability. There is considerable use of organic pesticides, residual heat, solar panels on roofs, and gas and water are used very conscientiously but, for some reason, it appears that we are not quite so good at communicating our efforts to the broader public. We have long since stopped practices such as the use of damaging pest control agents and the unregulated application of artificial fertilisers. And I, for one, seize every possible opportunity to communicate these facts. So many fantastic steps have been taken and initiatives developed, I want the whole world to know about them.
The corona crisis has also heightened my own sense of awareness regarding sustainability. I used to travel to Guatemala 3-4 times per year for meetings and appointments. But over the past few months, I have realised that these meetings are perfectly feasible using video conferencing facilities. I’m sure that the number of trips could be reduced by half and this will help us reduce our company’s overall footprint. As a result of the collaboration with Container Centralen, and their worldwide pool, that’s simply music to my ears!”