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Fresh Herb Importing

Our fresh cut orchid import/export business was very successful, but we had “saturated” the market, and were unable to increase sales due to our pricing structure and logistic limitations.  So, we looked for different ways to expand into related markets, using our knowledge, abilites and experience.  A friend from the flower business suggested that we try importing fresh herbs from Colombia.

At first you might think, “How do you jump from flowers to food?”  But, there are many similarities.  We were already familiar with importing in general. Plus, we had been importing roses and other flowers from Colombia.  But, a key issue in the quality of the product was in post harvest processing.  This was one of our strengths.

Herb Farms in Colombia

We visited many farms in and around Bogota and Medellin.  Most of the growers handled only one crop, and they were located in different areas.  So, logistics was a major difficulty with every shipment.  We had to order products from various farms, have them packked and shippped to the airport, then the collection of products had to be consolidated into one combined shipment.

Our main product was Basil, of which there were several types.  We also imported and sold Chives, Rosemary, Mint and Thyme.

A Glimpse of the work in the Processing and Packing Facilities

We knew from our flower business that sanitation and cooling were critical to producing a high quality product. But, the variety of growers using different types of facilities and processes, made both operational control and quality control difficult.

A peek at what the packaging looks like

We had a limited mount of success.  We discovered that without full control of the  processing and logistcs, likw we had in Thailand, we would not be able to provide the level of produt quality and customer service that we expected.