Flexfresh is the special patented film that Uflex Limited has developed comprising a proprietary polymeric formula, boosting the shelf-life of flowers for florists around the world.
Flexfresh works on the principle of active modified atmospheric packaging (AMAP) and happens to be the first ever film for packing fresh produce that is bio-degradable by composting and complies with all international regulations for overall migration (EC 1935/2004), reach compliance (EC 1907/2006) and qualifies for biodegradation under DIN EN 13432 (2000-12). The packaging can be industrially composted within 180 days.
Flexfresh works in conjunction with fast respiration meter and laser perforation system supplied by Perfotec BV of the Netherlands. While the respiration meter ascertains the respiration rate of the flowers, the laser system uses this information to adapt the permeability of the polymeric film with the help of perforation matrix.
Waterless online flower packaging is becoming increasingly popular among global flower companies for the myriad benefits that it brings to the table.
Explaining the benefits and sustainability aspects of the award-winning waterless internet flower packaging, Mr Siva Shankaran vice-president, Flexfresh at Uflex Limited says: “The special proprietary polymeric substrate is the first biodegradable (by composting) film that maintains the hydration of flowers during transpiration (evaporation causing loss of moisture during respiration) thus creating a closed loop system. Flowers are put to slow respiration mode by reducing the oxygen availability preventing excess oxidation and dehydration.
“The film keeps the flowers breathing in hydrated oxygen and releases excess humidity keeping them touch dry. The flowers thus can go without water for a significant number of days as the humidity is fed back into them as they continue to breathe in the modified atmosphere.
“This solution enables to hold flowers intact at the destination anywhere between ten to 15 days as per the supply chain requirements against the normal shelf-life of four to five days offered by conventional packaging. This in turn enables florists and retailers to plan and store large inventory for festive rushes. This development is a major shot in the arm for e-commerce companies and retailers, bringing enormous savings.
“We are visualising an instore display without water and web shops that can offer preformed flower bouquets by post parcel without having to worry about poor quality on arrival. This packaging solution completely alleviates the use of millions of gallons of water from the flower supply chain currently used thereby making it one of the most sustainable packaging solutions. Solutions entailing e-commerce packaging are proving to be as challenging today as were our first efforts around defining the sustainable packaging at the turn of this century.
“Just as we learned then that there is no such thing as ‘the most sustainable package’, we are learning today that there are many areas of focus that can lead to a more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible e-commerce packaging solutions perfectly echoing the ethos of a brand that consumers rightly expect. While designing waterless internet flower packaging this was the axiom that we adhered to.
“Internationally, all flowers are transported using expensive Air Freight from Growing Region to the Markets. The typical supply chain is Grower, Auction House, Wholesaler, Retailer/ Florist and finally the Consumer, which is now possible through offering E-Commerce platform to connect the Growers/ Brand Owners directly to the Consumers. It is now possible to ship flowers through post parcel as the package does not have any water, eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination with other courier goods.”
Mr Siva Shankaran further adds: “One of the significant savings that accrues is the fact that nearly 2.7 times more material can be carried per truck, since water is completely eliminated if the transportation is done from grower to the retailer using sea freight.
“Similar savings are also possible while transportation is done from auction house to Retailers. To address the market requirements, Uflex and Perfotec offer solutions both for e-commerce / retail packaging (through flow wrap packing) and bulk liners for sea freighting of flowers from grower to the market.
“Since the freshness of the fresh cut flower is indicated by its water content, with least weight loss and lower oxidation, the flowers look much fresher and more appealing to the consumers. The overall consumer complaints have actually reduced by 90% regarding freshness of the flowers.
“These benefits accrue to the consumers in terms of costs with freshest flowers having longer vase life enhancing the overall value proposition. This is where Flexfresh does the trick.
“Further, the liner bags made of translucent film of special patented polymeric composition allow visibility to the brands of the florists.
“Particularly noteworthy is the fact that it is also possible to bring flowers straight from Harvest to market by economic Sea freight. This results in significant carbon footprint reduction and also enables longer storage between 30-40 days from the time of harvest.”
Recent trial of waterless internet flower packaging by a renowned flower group in the Netherlands
Recently, the e-commerce wing of a renowned flower group in the Netherlands conducted a trial for waterless internet flower packaging.
Sharing more details about the trial, Mr Bas Groeneweg, director, Perfotec BV, said: “In order to establish an independent review of what AMAP technology and Flexfresh can offer – a joint trial was carried out between our client, Perfotec and Flexfresh. We appointed an independent third-party, Flower Watch (www.flowerwatch.com) for conducting this trial. Flower Watch enjoys worldwide recognition as a leading expert in monitoring and securing the quality and vase life of fresh cut flowers.
“Flower Watch carried out the complete evaluation of the flowers with two different set-ups. One where we maintained the flowers in cold storage for seven days at 5°C and thereafter in water bucket at 5°C for two days and the second setup entailed maintaining the flowers in cold storage for 14 days at 5°C and in water bucket for two days at 5°C.
“This was done in order to establish the comparison between the different conditions in which the flowers are usually received at destination. Pink O’ Hara Rose variety was particularly chosen because of the complexities like higher respiration and wilting rates that are associated with its supply chain.
“Three samples of flowers were compared i.e. (a) packed in Flexfresh, (b) packed in Nappy Sack and (c) unpacked.
“It was found that Flexfresh offered a guaranteed seven-day vase life in both the cases i.e. after seven and fourteen days of cold storage. Whereas unpacked flowers and the ones in Nappy Sack stared wilting from the second day itself. The roses packed in Flexfresh stood fresh even on the seventh day.”
Expressing delight over the trials, Mr Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director, Uflex Limited, said: “We are delighted with the independent validation of Flexfresh and active modified atmospheric packaging (AMAP) technology for extending the shelf life of flowers. This allows us to serve our clients better; reduces wastage and helps them passing on the benefits further to their customers. We are happy to associate with Perfotec BV.”
To summarise, Mr Siva Shankaran said: “Besides, flowers, Flexfresh as a packaging solution is getting increasingly popular globally for extending the shelf-life of various fruits and vegetables.
“This packaging is much sought after by the exporters from across the world for exporting their fresh produce by economic sea freight instead of exorbitant air dispatch. Plethora of sustainability benefits that come along with Flexfresh further makes the proposition eco-friendly and popular in the day and age we live.”