PrimeAir Thinks Global, Acts Local

The spread of COVID-19 is taking a particularly heavy toll on Colombia and its major economic centers, including Bogota where PrimeAir has a significant presence.

Here in Latin America’s third biggest economy, the unemployment rate is still hovering near 16 percent as economic activity shrunk by 17 percent in the second quarter of 2020. Compared with where the country was during the first months of the pandemic, there is reason for optimism.

Yet there’s still a long way to go, provided that the pandemic is relatively short-lived and the community hangs onto hope—and each other.

“For months now, the government and private sector have been looking at ways to strengthen the national economy, get us through this crisis intact, and get back to the promise of a bright future,” says Jose Luis Vargas, Commercial Manager for PrimeAir in Bogota.

To promote stability and economic development in Colombia, he says the answer is to think globally and act locally. For PrimeAir and its parent company Prime Group, that means continually adapting to the ongoing changes impacting the global supply chain, pursuing emerging market opportunities worldwide, and focusing on what the company and its people do best—provide world-class logistics support to local industries including fruits, fresh fish, aircraft engines, and most importantly, flowers.

“We are truly proud to be able to play such an important part in sustaining business in these important sectors. By working closely with our vendors and cargo airline partners, we are ensuring that our local shippers and forwarders have unfettered access to the capacity they need to continue supporting the farmers, producers, and manufacturers in the region,” says Vargas.

Committed to Keep Flying

Certainly, the surest sign of PrimeAir’s commitment to the market, its customers, and the people of Colombia, was its dogged determination to maintain uninterrupted operations, even in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus break out.

As the general sales & service agent (GSSA) for Atlas Air in Bogota, it fell upon PrimeAir to ensure their daily B747s continued providing lift in the market, at a time when most carriers abandoned their regular schedules and rotations to go elsewhere for more profitable short-term business.

According to Vargas, “Atlas Air depends on PrimeAir’s expert abilities and long-time boots on the ground, and we deliver.”

PrimeAir currently handles six B747-400 freighter flights per week between BOG and MIA (Tuesday through Sunday); and two additional segments that operate BOG-MIA-AMS (on Wednesdays and Saturdays). In September, PrimeAir celebrated its fourth year of operation with Atlas Air in Colombia.

Rosy Economy

Prior to the sudden and devastating impact of the pandemic on the global economy, Colombia was on a solid path of growth, expecting to top the list of “30 countries preferred for investment by foreigners” published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Relying on its rich natural resources, and other important solid sectors like fresh flowers and agriculture, Colombia was anticipating continued prosperity through 2020 and well beyond, a trend that observers remain confident will continue.

Key to the promise of national recovery is Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport, the largest airport in Latin America in terms of cargo traffic. This major economic engine offering vast air connectivity is a major hub in PrimeAir’s global network. By servicing its many customers here, the company is also facilitating local trade, supporting economic competitiveness, and helping to increase productivity.

“The air cargo industry is a powerful catalyst for economic prosperity at the local level, ensuring delivery of farmers’ products to markets around the world and helping to sustain jobs and economic opportunity,” Vargas added. Of course it’s not just perishables; PrimeAir also supports a growing number aircraft engine overhaul and maintenance stations, transporting many of the industry’s largest aircraft power plants into and out of Colombia.

About PrimeAir

As the biggest GSSA in the country, PrimeAir sets the standard in on-time performance and is proud to deliver best-in-class service to Atlas Air, a global leader in the air transport of Colombian products.

PrimeAir combines extensive experience with local knowledge to ensure expert cargo sales and marketing services, operations, handling, and accounting for airlines across the globe including Atlas Air, Emirates SkyCargo, DHL Worldwide, and Eastern Airlines, among others.

PrimeAir benefits from being part of Miami-based Prime Group, a network of coordinated cargo and logistics specialists with offices, refrigerated and bonded warehouses, and certified handling facilities strategically located in Europe, South America, and the U.S.


For information about the entire family of Prime Group companies, visit www.primegroup.aero.

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Prime Fresh Handling’s New Vacuum Cooler at BOG is BIG News

From farm to cargo-port to shelf, there are myriad steps along the way that must be taken to maintain the quality of delicate perishables. Topping the list is the steady application of cool air.

To eliminate the chances of a moldy old blueberry or warm and bruised flowers ever making it to market, shippers and handlers need the right stuff, like tight procedures, experienced staff, and top-of-the-line equipment.

Prime Fresh Handling’s got all that—and now even more in its ongoing fight against temperature abuse: a new ColdMax vacuum cooler at its BOG facility.

We recently spoke with Jose Luis Vargas, our Commercial Manager on the front lines in Colombia, to learn about this unique new feature that is making his customers happy, and the consumers they serve even happier—and for longer. Turns out, application of a vacuum cooler to the existing standard pre-cooling process can extend the vase life of flowers by up to 1.5 extra days.

So, let’s get to the root of the story:

Q: The new vacuum coolers at BOG are said to be a “rare find.” Why’s that? This technology has been around for years.

A: Yes, you’re right. Vacuum pre-cooling for floral crops actually dates back to the 1950s, but for years, few such systems were being used commercially. In recent years however, they’ve become more prevalent at centralized cargo terminals, such as our PFH facility at BOG.

What makes this system a “rare find” is that due to high capital cost of the equipment, few other local logistics providers can offset such an investment. It also adds a little extra time to the overall staging process, but the payoff for consumers is a longer vase life. Because of the high throughput of boxes at BOG, it was considered it an essential next step in PFH’s evolution as Colombia’s premier shipper and handler of fresh-cut flowers. Now it’s a real feather in our cap.

Q: So it is used only for shipment of fresh-cut flowers?

A: This system is being used primarily in the handling of our number one export at BOG—fresh-cut flowers. But it also can be used in staging sensitive perishables like fruit, vegetables, and herbs that we expertly handle for our customers.

Q: Why is this process so important?

A: Rapid cooling is an essential step in maintaining the cold supply. The way to ensure the quality and attractiveness of flowers is to cool them as soon as possible after harvest and then steadily maintain optimum temperatures throughout the entire transit and distribution process.

Once packed, flowers are difficult to cool. Their high rate of respiration and the high temperatures of most greenhouses and packing areas result in heat build-up in packed flower containers, unless measures are taken to ensure temperature reduction. Forced-air cooling of boxes with end holes or closable flaps is the most common and effective method for pre-cooling cut flowers. But the vacuum cooling process is that extra special step that few other handlers can offer.

Q: How big is the unit at BOG, and what are the rates for usage?

A: Manufactured by one of the biggest names in vacuum coolers, cold rooms, and ice machines, our advanced ColdMax KMS-4000 system has a processing capacity of 4000 kg/cycle, and is about the size of a two main deck jet pallets. Service rates take into consideration weight, volume, packaging, and other factors, but generally, chargeable weight or gross weight is USD 0.06/kg.

Q: How does vacuum cooling work?

A: Vacuum cooling is based on the fact that water boils at lower temperatures at lower pressures. At about 1/10th atmosphere pressure, water boils at 0°C (32°F). When flowers or plants are placed at these low pressures, the water in their cells “boils,” removing heat. It usually takes only 18-30 minutes to reduce the temperature of multi-leaf products from 35 °C to 2 °C.

Q: Are there other benefits to vacuum cooling?

A: It should be noted that this system also serves as a useful “backstop” for when flowers arrive that either were not properly cooled by growers or have been delayed for any reason along the way to the airport.

They say the weakest link in the flower post-harvest chain can be found at the airport—where the chance of delays is greatest—causing flowers to quickly loose their edge due to temperature mismanagement. But that’s not PFH—we’re your strongest link in the perishables business.

About Prime Fresh Handling

PFH’s global network of offices and bonded and refrigerated storage facilities provides timely and easy access to all of the world’s major markets. With innovative technology, operational proficiency, and friendly customer relations, PFH expertly manages all aspects of the logistics and handling of temperature-sensitive products, from fresh fish, produce, and cut flowers to pharmaceutical products and vaccines.

PFH Bogotá is located at Av El Dorado N. 111-51, TC1 Officina 220, Colombia. Call 57-15185555 or in the U.S. at 1-3055922044. Also visit www.prime-fresh.com.

Growing Presence of E-Commerce Making Holidays Even Happier This Year

The explosive growth of e-commerce accelerated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is offering a more than a twinkle of hope for those of us in global supply chain management— especially as we go into the holiday season.

As consumers have grown accustomed to a digital-first shopping mindset, they plan to do more online shopping this holiday season than ever before, and that’s great news for the logistics industry.

To meet this challenge, producers of consumer goods worldwide and their requisite distribution providers are keeping pace, learning to adapt, and growing stronger. This silver lining to the pandemic is also being seen in the global shipment and handling of perishable foods and fresh flowers, Prime Group’s core business.

As we march into the holiday season, new data from PriceSpider on consumer purchasing behavior shows a 113% increase in year-over-year e-commerce sales through the first three quarters of 2020.

Factoring in the recent spikes in COVID-19 infections in tandem with flu season this winter, there will likely be even more stay-at-home orders as consumers continue to avoid brick-and-mortar retail entirely. So, happy holidays, New Year, and beyond…

Frenzy for Food

With grocery e-commerce now ranked among the fastest-growing product categories online, Prime Group companies are committed to providing the highest levels of service for our fresh food customers and forwarders around the world. And it’s not just retail grocery; online sales are also skyrocketing in the food and beverage segment, as they too have successfully adopted alternative methods to meet emerging customer preferences.

In response to the boom, one step we’ve taken is to increase cold storage capacity all across our global network of warehouses and handling facilities. The demand for coolers and freezers was already high prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now we are even better positioned to maintain the cold supply chain for our customers shipping temperature-sensitive fruit, vegetables, cheese, and fish.

We are also continually beefing up our technology and introducing new and more efficient systems by which we track and monitor our customers’ precious cargo to ensure fresh, safe, and on-time delivery worldwide.

Forget Me Not

‘Tis also the season for fresh flowers. Despite the major challenges imposed on this industry since the beginning of the pandemic, fresh-cut flower distribution, buttressed by e-commerce sales, is also taking off again. And just in time. With nearly 30 percent of adults in the U.S. purchasing flowers or plants to give to others on Christmas and Hanukkah, many will also click and buy blooms for themselves.

As you’ll recall, early in the pandemic, retailers struggled to keep floral shelves stocked, due to shortages in production and a lack of transport capacity. Since May, however, the industry has gradually gotten back on track. In fact, according to the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), after two months of near identical gains, floral sales gains actually exceeded fresh produce growth by about one percentage point in September.

Here again, the increased prevalence of e-commerce is feeding growth in this key market segment. Although the idea of simply clicking on a button to order fresh flowers is nothing new for this industry, now that consumers are wary of mingling with other shoppers, they appreciate the sterility offered by the flower e-commerce industry.

Life as We Knew It

The pandemic has reshaped life as we know it, and in the process, has accelerated consumer reliance on alternative means of accessing food and merchandise. So buckle up, this e-commerce boom is not going away any time soon.

For 20 years, our customers have depended on Prime Group to smooth out the bumps in the road by identifying ways to swiftly adapt and respond to sudden and sustained changes that affect the cold supply chain.

Just know we’re here with you for the entire ride.