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A platform for 17 flower growers

18 February 2019

One of the main objectives of Fresh-o-Fair is to ensure that customers in Europe know about the farm in Ecuador where their roses will come from. This company has been operating since January and aims to turn the flower export business around. Juan Pablo Muñoz and the siblings Claudia and Esteban Muñoz run this business, which reveals the fact of being part of a family linked to the sector. "We have been working on the idea for some years and in 2018 we all decided to start it up. The idea came about because my father has a sales company in Germany. Claudia and I saw how the business was managed. We always thought we had to innovate. The way flowers are sold is changing and we wanted to reach the florist or the final consumer directly," says the CEO, Esteban. In the flower trade, the ones who earn the most are the wholesalers. Exporters have no choice but to adjust to the prices set by the market; direct sales, however, give them the possibility to access higher prices per stem. Muñoz family developed a platform to connect florists and farms. " They should know exactly where their flower is coming from, their certifications, the history of the farm, etc. In the same way, exporters know where their product is going, the price, transparency, etc.". In buyers have the possibility to see the catalogue of flowers, information about the farm, plantations in which there is the product you are looking for, prices, and so on. In addition, the client can open their own account and access a blog where different stories and a detailed explanation of how to buy can be found.

Juan Pablo, Claudia and Esteban Muñoz, founders of Fresh-o-Fair.
Photo: Diego Pallero / LÍDERES

The investment for the development of the platform and implementation was USD 500 000. Currently, the company works with 17 farms in the country that commercializes, mainly, more than 300 varieties of roses; however, the catalogue includes summer flowers ( Gerberas, Veronicas, Tropicals, etc.), Gypsophilias, Preserved Roses, Foliage, among other products.

One of the farms is Santa Fe, in Pichincha. Their sales manager, Iván Alzate, believed in the Muñoz family. "It's time to make changes in the industry. The prices we have now are low compared to production costs (...) platforms like these allow us to give the real value to the flower. To enter the page, each farm gives its data to Fresh-o-Fair: varieties, how they are packed, etc. Immediately, the information is uploaded to their web profile. Claudia Muñoz, the firm's Marketing and Design Manager, explains that they can help clients with information about any novelty: varieties, processes, etc. One of the elements that stand out for farm owners such as Alzate is that direct buyers, florists or natural people find out that the flower is Ecuadorian. He and the Muñoz family explain that there are people who believe that the flowers are from Holland, when in fact, it is only the hub for distribution in Europe.

At the moment, the platform only provides the service for Germany (90%) and the United Kingdom (10%). In the future the platform will be opened for the US market, Russia and other countries. "We want to be in the countries to which Ecuadorian flowers are exported," says Juan Pablo Muñoz. The firm's goal, in the next 48 months, is to move through the company 10% of all national export of flowers. The sale of flowers through the platform mechanism is not new. According to Expoflores, these appeared five years ago and have had an important growth; customer service is crucial in these. Fresh-o-Fair flowers can be ordered from anywhere in Germany and are delivered without problems. The platform is in German and English; soon it will be a multilingual channel. The owners of the firm also seek to reduce the environmental impact of the flower export. They want to reduce the amount of waste generated by the packaging of the bunches. Also, with less plastic and cardboard there are more facilities for buyers. European florists, for example, do not have the infrastructure to handle waste, so more functional packaging is helpful. Progress has already been made in relation to boxes without staples.

Facts. Fresh-o-Fair considers itself a logistics company. It is only the operator of the platform, say its owners.

Service. Soon we will use artificial intelligence to anticipate the market's export needs. "We want to have a prediction of demand in Europe and the USA. This can be used as feedback for the farms".

Personal. Seven workers are part of the company. This is a family organization. Esteban Muñoz highlights the presence of two generations in the company.

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