Our long enchantment with the rose

Out of the blue, a customer recently asked what my favorite flower is. I answered immediately, almost by reflex – because of course, it is the red rose. The queen of the flower industry. A truly wondrous sight, indeed.

In fact, roses are the very reason for Prime Group’s existence. Since day one, the handling and shipment of roses and other varieties of fresh-cut flowers from Ecuador and Colombia has been our core business. They are the very seed that started it all, allowing the company to blossom, and are now giving us the ability to expand.

So here we are, into the peak of a new season. From growers to shippers to florists and other retailers, this is the time of year everyone works tirelessly to meet the enormous demand of Valentine’s Day and International Women’s Day in March.

We’re working long and hard, too, especially at Prime Fresh Handling, where we expertly partner with our clients to fine-tune the shipping and handling process – from start to finish.

Similarly at PrimeAir, we are focused on managing the on-the-ground needs of our air cargo partners, as they double, triple, and in some cases quadruple their regular capacity to meet this annual spike in demand.

That’s what we do and we do it well – because we have to. In the perishables business, the mentality is that you work until you get it done, and there is zero margin for error. It’s always been this way and always will be.

 

Our Deep Roots

When my business partner Omar Zambrano and I launched the company in 2001, the first flight we ever serviced was a B747 between Quito and Miami – completely full of flowers.

Over the years, it’s become second nature to understand that flowers demand a perfect operation, with no delays and no problems. Perfection is not just a goal, it is imperative. Again, it’s just what you have to do in this business.

Experience and flexibility mean everything – along with smarts, because you simply must solve matters immediately and sometimes creatively.

Therein lies the benefit of working with the Prime Group companies. Our long enchantment with fresh flowers has trained us well to serve our customers well.

We know exactly how to move things in a proper way, the fastest way, and in a way that pleases our customers most. They know we are completely dedicated and on top of our game – for them. It’s our mentality, always.

We hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

Emirates SkyCargo celebrates five years in Quito

Last month, when Emirates SkyCargo celebrated five years of “uplifting roses from Ecuador,” the news was picked up in Air Cargo World, Air Cargo Week, and other major trade journals across the globe. After all, it’s big news.

As its GSSA in Colombia and Ecuador, PrimeAir and parent company Prime Group wish to congratulate the carrier on its great success here.

After all, PrimeAir and Emirates SkyCargo have been working closely together since Emirates first entered the market in 2013 – in Quito. And just this past summer, the partnership was significantly enhanced as the Dubai-based carrier selected PrimeAir to serve as GSSA for Emirates SkyCargo’s operation in Colombia, too.

Says Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes, “They were obviously very pleased with the high caliber service we provide – and we are so proud to be part of their continued success on the South American continent.”

PrimeAir provides in-country sales, marketing, and accounting for Emirates SkyCargo, in addition to airport services such as warehouse supervision, and ULD control.

Acknowledging that the agreement with Emirates SkyCargo is a feather in the company’s cap, Prime Group is pleased to share the good news here with our readers, on behalf of one of our most honored customers and partners, Emirates SkyCargo.

Uplifting roses with four weekly freighters in Ecuador

Roses are one of the most popular export commodities from Ecuador and are renowned for their vibrant color and long shelf life. Over the last five years Emirates SkyCargo has been facilitating exports of Ecuadorian roses as well as other flowers and perishables through its freighter operations to Quito.

Emirates SkyCargo commenced its freighter operations to the Ecuadorian capital in December 2013 with a once a week service. However, due to growth in demand and trade flows from Ecuador, the air cargo carrier increased the frequency of its freighter flights. Currently, Emirates SkyCargo’s Boeing 777 freighter aircraft uplift cargo four times a week from Quito.

Since December 2013, Emirates SkyCargo has helped transport over 50,000 tonnes of Ecuadorian exports from Quito. Fresh flowers including roses form the bulk of export commodities transported on the freighters. In 2017 alone, close to 12,500 tonnes of fresh flowers were flown from Quito to other parts of Emirates’ network in Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

High season for flower exports lasts between August and February but the peak demand for roses occurs in late January and early February in the run up to Valentine’s Day, which requires additional freighter capacity to be deployed to meet demand.

More recently, Emirates SkyCargo has also helped promote the growth of exports of perishables such as mangoes and baby bananas from Ecuador to markets such as Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Singapore. With its global network of over 155 destinations Emirates SkyCargo facilitates the development of new export opportunities and makes an important contribution to the local economy in Ecuador where more than 100,000 people are dependent on the floriculture sector.

With Emirates Fresh, the carrier’s three-tiered suite of specialized solutions, flowers and other perishables from Ecuador retain their freshness and longevity during their journey. Emirates SkyCargo’s modern fleet of Boeing 777 freighters have controlled temperature zones set up inside the aircraft ensuring that perishable shipments travel at the right temperature.

Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, is the largest international airline cargo operator in the world. With an unrivalled route network, the carrier connects cargo customers to over 160 cities across six continents and operates in many of the world’s fastest developing markets.

While Emirates SkyCargo offers cargo capacity on its entire fleet, it’s dedicated fleet of freighters includes 13 Boeing 777-Fs and one Boeing 747-F. The carrier operates state-of-the-art cargo facilities at its dual hub locations in Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC).

A view from the window seat

They say, when you’re 18 years old, everything is possible and tomorrow looks friendly.

Like humans, businesses have lifecycles, too. In 2019, as Prime Group celebrates its 18th year in operation, it is moving from what industry experts call the “Growth and Establishment” phase into “Expansion” – an exciting time indeed.

So, in order get a good view of where Prime Group and its four divisions are going in the year ahead, let’s take a look at where they have come from.

Over the past couple years, as Prime Group has continued to take on new customers, it’s been busy managing increasing levels of revenue, staying ahead of the competition, and expanding its workforce.

More recently, Co-Founders Roger Paredes and Omar Zambrano also took a bold step to start establishing real order and cohesion by mobilizing each divisional team according to clearly defined and communicated goals. This was achieved with the help of internationally renowned London Consulting Group.

“We signed on to work closely with the London consultants to enhance operational efficiencies that will ensure Prime Group is able to adapt to changes precipitated by our anticipated growth,” said Roger Paredes.

After months of studying the company inside and out, a broad range of action steps got underway to restructure and streamline operations. Starting in 2018, they ranged from expanding Prime Group’s space in Miami and at stations all across its system, to instituting new internal processes to make the company more agile and efficient.

New Headquarters

In August 2018, the company pulled up stakes and relocated the international headquarters in Doral. The new and significantly larger office-warehouse complex, within close proximity to MIA, offers a promising platform for continued success.

“We now boast more than 4,000 square feet of office space in the new building and doubled the size of our warehouse to 20,000 sqft,” said Zambrano.

 

A Push for PAOC

Multiple initiatives now being realized also include the start of a commercial push for Prime Air & Ocean Cargo, the freight-forwarding side of the business. Based here in Miami, PAOC’s expanded warehouse and storage facility at the new Doral headquarters will not only fuel its progress, but also position PAOC for greater diversification in 2019.

Says Zambrano, “We are looking forward to a very good year. Brazil in particular will become a more significant player in 2019, along with several other principal countries in South America.”

PrimeAir on the Move

Over the past year, PrimeAir saw an enhancement of business relationships with partners that share the company’s goals – particularly Emirates SkyCargo and Atlas Air.

This summer, the division that serves as an integrated General Sales and Services Agent around the world, was appointed as SkyCargo’s new GSSA in the Colombian market, following Emirate’s launch of international cargo service into Bogota. This supplements an existing separate schedule of daily flights in neighboring Quito.

Speaking of Quito, the company boosted staffing in 2018 to accommodate a shift in focus from a purely PrimeAir office to a fully diversified Prime Group operation, offering entire spectrum of brands under one roof.

Similarly, BOG is following suit, so that the parent company’s multiple divisions are on track to become the top provider of air cargo logistics and services in that region, as well.

Prime Fresh Handling

Prime Fresh Handling is handling its operation well. Over past year, there was a continued emphasis on boosting PFH’s services at both LAX and at JFK , two of the newest and most successful station operations in the Prime Group system.

Amsterdam, too, is emerging as a key player for the company. A primary gateway to the entire European market, the new Schiphol operation is today recognized as a prime location for opportunity – and success.

Ready for Prime Time

This is a real success story: Prime Fresh Products, specializing in working in-country to take perishable, shelf-stable products to market in one integrated path, is taking the snack world by storm – in the form of unique new lines of snacks under the Prime Planet name.

After seeing great success with Prime Planet Tostones – and their 2018 foray into big South Florida supermarkets like Publix – the company realized it was a perfect time to grow this division and will continue to do so through 2019.

In concert with the launch of Prime Planet Parsnip Chips and Cassava Chips, PFP is also set to gain greater exposure in 2019 with the recent launch of its new slogan, “A Natural World of Flavor.”

 

Looking Ahead

The next phase in the business lifecycle is “Expansion.” To get there, Prime Group plans to focus on 2019 as a launch pad to propel the company into 2020 and beyond. Paredes says that stabilizing the ship, so to speak, for a smooth journey ahead is what 2019 will be all about.

He also notes that in 2019, Prime Group will continue to enhance the portfolio of airlines they work with in order to expand into more markets in South America, Asia, and other U.S. cities and states. “And there’s some promising surprises in store, too.”

Many entrepreneurs agree, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards.

“I agree,” says Paredes, “and with careful planning in 2019 and constant vigilance to the quality of service we provide, Prime Group will be better positioned for success than every before in our history.”

Miami/Doral is home to Prime Air & Ocean Cargo

Tucked in the suburbs just northwest of Miami International Airport, Doral is dubbed the fastest growing big city in Florida and the 11th fastest in the country. This rising young town is also a hotspot for trans-global companies such as Prime Air & Ocean Cargo – a rising division of its Doral-based parent company, Prime Group.

Prime Air & Ocean Cargo (PAOC) has extensive experience and knowledge in getting cargo from point A to B, matching the transportation needs of major industries all over the globe with creative, smart logistics solutions.

And for this long-standing company, Miami/Doral serves as a prime location for growth, opportunity, and successes – now and for years to come.

To get a better perspective on the Miami operation, we caught up with Omar Zambrano, co-founder of Prime Group, who oversees the day-to-day management PAOC.

 

Q:With the continued success of the MIA operation, tell us about your recent move to an all-new facility in Doral.

OZ: After outgrowing our previous home, we moved the company’s operation this summer into an all-new facility of 20,000 sqft, just three miles from the MIA cargo zone. It’s still within the city limits of Doral, because this area serves our needs so well – and the needs of our customers. Here we have 500 positions on rack, which is the right way to keep the cargo in good condition. Also, we now have parking space that accommodates 53-foot trailers.

The much-needed move, actually included relocation of the entire Prime Group portfolio of companies: PAOC, PrimeAir, Prime Fresh Handling, and Prime Fresh Products.

 

Q:What is your strategy with the MIA operation?

OZ: Our strategy for success lies within our team of people. PAOC has been in the enviable position of attracting and retaining extremely qualified professionals with skills and expertise spanning the entire logistics spectrum. PAOC employees are trained to handle general cargo, hazardous material, perishable cargo, and over-size cargo – via air and ocean shipment. In addition, our entire staff is bilingual in English and Spanish.

It’s also important to note, we are always ready to help our customers with any problems, challenges, or questions they may have. It simply doesn’t matter if it’s late at night or over the weekend. Our clients absolutely love our dedication to service – that’s why we have a very high level of customer retention. And in the few instances a customer leaves us for a competitor, it’s just a matter of time until they make their way back to PAOC.

 

Q:How is the market performing for the company?

OZ: PAOC is very well known in the international market. On a weekly basis, for instance, we move more than 50 tons from China in transit to South America. We we keep just keep growing, year after year – and 2018 was certainly no exception.

 

Q: Where are your biggest customers based?

OZ: The majority of PAOC’s customers are out of Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Holland, and Italy.

 

Q: What are the primary products PAOC focuses on with its marketing and shipment efforts?

OZ: The main products we transport include electronics, hospital equipment, ATM-machine parts, fresh-cut flowers, and vaccines. As you can see, that’s a wide-ranging mix of products and material, but honestly, that’s what makes our business so interesting.

 

Q. We’ve heard PAC will see a “commercial push” in 2019. Tell us about that.

OZ: What this means is we are focusing on increased diversification. With the ability to move all kinds of cargo, including perishables, we are extremely well positioned to manage the ups-downs of the market. We are anticipating a very good year in 2019. Brazil in particular will be growing this coming year, as well other principal countries in South America.

Our very good relationships with air carriers and ocean carriers allow PAOC to offer great rates and ample space to all destinations, inclusive of space on passenger flights.

 

Q: What kind of expertise is required to beat the competition?

OZ: In one word, it’s know-how. Well, that’s two words, kind of! But the fact is, we know the logistics business up and down, from origin to destination. We have very close relationships with our customers, which allows us to always find solutions. By aligning ourselves with our customers, side-by-side, we always find the best way to move their cargo, based on their needs. Flexibility is also one of our greatest qualities, allowing us to accommodate last-minute requests.

 

Q:What is the composition of your team?

OZ: The Miami PAOC operation consists of the following team members:

  • Igor Vilas Boas – Cargo Manager, Export & Import
  • Brian Rivas – Ocean Operation
  • Roy Paredes – Brazil Operation
  • Kahrenn Leiva – South America Operation
  • Roberth Valdes – South America Operation
  • Francisco Zumarraga – Sales Executive
  • Tatiana Hernandez – Quotes
  • Pamela Espinoza – Pricing
  • And in the warehouse, staff members are Minerva Pedraza, Alain Ciscal, Joshuan Hernandez, and Javier Soza.

 

Q:Tell us a about your history with Prime Group and in the industry.

OZ: I got my start in the airline business in Ecuador in 1997, working for Avianca Cargo; and then Transoceanica were I become deputy manager for cargo with Lufthansa and Lan Chile Cargo. In 2001, I joined up with Roger Paredes to form our own company, Prime Air, which was the GSA for AGI, operating six flights per week to Miami. Our market was Quito-Miami with B747F equipment. By 2004, I moved to Miami to fulfill the dream of expanding our operations beyond Ecuador and diversifying our service portfolio.

In October of that year, I started moving cargo from Miami to Quito with Arrow Air. Many of the contacts I had in Ecuador started contacting me to arrange their export from Miami to Quito, so business was good and continued to expand.  In 2005, we rented a small warehouse of just 2,500 sqft, but by 2008 expanded into a 5,000-sqft warehouse. Growth continued and in 2010 we moved into a to 10,000-sqft warehouse – and then this past year, into the new 20,000 sqft space.

Now PAOC is well known among all the airlines and ocean carriers in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles due to the high volume of cargo we move and the exceptional quality of our services.

For information, contact Prime Group Co-Founder Omar Zambrano at ozambrano@primegroup.aero or by calling 305-592-2044.  Also visit www.primeaircargo.com.

Stick to Your Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that the New Year is here. I am thankful for a fulfilling 2018 and a joyous holiday season.

In the year ahead – our 18th anniversary year – we will reinforce the positive changes in 2018 that resulted in favorable growth and prosperity among the four divisions of the parent company, Prime Group.

Going forward, I am also committed to reinforcing those activities that have helped me personally to be my best, so I may continue to enjoy the most meaningful things in life – family, satisfying work, and my health and well-being.

It’s good to have goals, or resolutions as we call them this time of year. One of mine for 2019 is to seek more of a balance between my work life and personal life, something we should all consider in order to be at the top of our game.

Getting fit is another one of those basic resolutions, and it’s certainly no cakewalk! I should know, because it was my top resolution last year. And today I’m happy to report not only did I stick with the plan, but I lost 30 pounds in the process. I have greater energy, dexterity, and more confidence in movement – it even helped with my posture.

So this year, I am going to be resolute in eating smart and healthy, which again is pretty basic, but important at the same time.

This idea of paying strict attention to the basics – be it personally or in business – can yield tangible benefits. If you put in the investment, it pays off.

Again, whether it’s your physical plant or a business, people notice when your operation looks good, when you’re well postured, and when you are on track to meet your goals.

Counting your blessings is also a traditional act we engage in this time of year. But more than an act, gratitude has proven benefits to our overall well-being. I recently learned that giving thanks allows us to feel better rested and have higher self-esteem. So, it turns out that intentional appreciation is more than minding our manners – it’s good for our mental health.

So I’m also using this holiday season to renew my commitment to gratitude. And I am happy to start right now by sharing my appreciation for you, our Prime Group customers.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and from all of us at the Prime Group family of companies, I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

A Time to Share Thanks

By Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes.

Every Thanksgiving, my family goes around the table to share what we’re thankful for, just before digging into the turkey. Even back when we lived in Quito, my American wife would insist on putting on a huge Thanksgiving dinner each year, complete with all the trimmings, in an effort to keep the stateside tradition going for our young daughters.

 

Close friends and family joining us there really enjoyed the chance to experience this unique American holiday, not just because it was like getting an extra early Christmas turkey meal, but because it focuses on the universal theme of thanks and gratitude.

 

And although this year we plan to take our celebration to the beach here in Miami, the warm and wonderful family tradition of sharing gratitude continues. Be it a beach blanket or formal dining table, it’s really all about being together, breaking bread, and acknowledging those who are most important.

 

Thanksgiving is also a time when we take stock of what we’ve accomplished over the past year and give thanks to all the wonderful people in our lives who have been at our side along the way, like our valued customers.

 

So, I want take a moment to personally let you to know how thankful my business partner Omar Zambrano and I are to be associated with you. Thank you for placing your trust in us and giving us a chance to provide you with our services. Your success is our success – and I am pleased that for so many of you, this has been a banner year.

 

And because much of our company’s good fortune is also tied to our dedicated and talented employees, I want to thank them as well, for the work they do to make our company great. You help us provide top-tier services to our clients every day. Without your commitment, creativity, and high standards, we would not be the thriving company we are. I am very grateful for your efforts.

 

I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with abundance and bright moments.

 

PFH is making connections with the right people

“The PMA Fresh Summit is the epitome of where you can come to get the best ideas and make connections with the right people.” That’s how the Produce Marketing Association summed up its huge show a couple weeks ago in Orlando serving the global produce and floral-supply chain business.

 

And that’s exactly what they delivered for Prime Fresh Handling (PFH) who sent a sales team to attend the annual Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition at the Orange County Convention Center.

 

Says Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes, “The response from potential customers at the show was fantastic. We not only came home with new customer business in hand, but with a number of very solid prospects, as well.”

 

With about 1,200 fresh-produce exhibitors showing their wares, this year’s Fresh Summit paid special attention to new and emerging products and services. So it was a natural that first-timer PFH was in the house, with their Commercial Manager Cristina Moscoso from Los Angeles, PFH’s North American Sales Manager Alex Paredes out of New York, and Prime Group Business Partners Omar Zambrano and Roger Paredes from the Miami headquarters.

 

The PMA Fresh Summit is an industry show for everyone from growers in South America to importers of produce, to conglomerates with household names like Dole – to, of course, firms like Prime Fresh Handling, involved in the transport of perishables.

 

The Prime Group sales team used the show as a steppingstone in expanding the company’s Prime Fresh Handling product and service line, versus a sole focus on the company’s core business, flower transport. “It’s part of our strategy to grow Prime Fresh Handling,” says Paredes.

 

In fact, he says, it is this very shift from flowers to general perishables that is fueling the overall growth of the company.

 

“After 17 years in business, there’s little doubt we’re a familiar face in the transport of fresh flowers – which will certainly continue to be a huge focus for us, “Paredes continued. “But we see great value in aggressively expanding into handling produce such as fruit, vegetables, and fish.”

 

Which is why it was so important to attend the PMA. “We achieved numerous leads, had great discussions, shared ideas for new projects… and to top it off, we came back to Miami to immediately begin providing service to at least two of the new customers we met there,” said Paredes.

 

Prime Fresh Handling benefits by being part of Miami-based Prime Group, a network of coordinated cargo and freight specialists with offices and representatives worldwide.

 

Paredes noted he and his team will continue attending the PMA Fresh Summit and grow their presence at this annual trade show. “There’s a lot of untapped potential there,” he said.

 

PMA offers a unique network of more than 34,000 member contacts from more than 2,800 member companies, based in 53 countries, on six continents. These contacts span all sizes and types of businesses across the supply chain. For information, visit www.pma.com.

 

With offices in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, Bogota, and Quito, Prime Fresh Handling has decades of experience handling perishables. Its vast network warehouses and handling facilities use leading technology that guarantees consistent and safe delivery of flowers, produce, and fish. PFH also provides cold storage, tracking and tracing, and logistics support including document processing and Customs clearance.

 

PFH is located at the headquarters of Prime Group at 1301 NW 84th Ave., Suite 127, Miami, FL 33126. For information, visit www.prime-fresh.com or call 305-592-2044.

Prime Group sees presence in European market budding – with Amsterdam Station

Here’s what most people know about Amsterdam. It has more canals than Venice, it rains a lot, everyone rides bicycles there, and it’s right in the heart of the flower capital of the world.

 

But those of us in the air cargo logistics and services business know one more thing, that Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is also home to one of the top providers in the industry– Prime Fresh Handling.

 

A total of three PFH employees are now based at Schiphol, the main international airport of the Netherlands. Located nine km outside the city of Amsterdam, AMS is high on the list of the world’s busiest airports by cargo traffic, ranking alongside Chicago O’Hare and London Heathrow.

 

And for Prime Fresh Handling, it is a prime location for growth, opportunity, and successes now and for years to come, as it also serves as a convenient gateway to the rest of the European market.

 

To get a perspective on the AMS operation, we talked with Marco Vink, Prime Fresh Handling’s General Manager based here at Schiphol.

 

Q: Tell us a about your Amsterdam operation?

MV: Prime Fresh Handling is one of the companies that compose the Prime Group. It is dedicated to import and handling of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. We are handling over 26 million kgs here on our six weekly freighters from South America, offering services such as vacuum cooling, transit handling, and export from the Dutch and French growers.

 

Q:With the growing success at AMS office, are you outgrowing your office?

MV: At the moment, we are in the process of moving to a new and larger facility where we can further grow and expand our operation. It’s going to be in a facility just 10 minutes from the airport, with very good infrastructure – and close to all major customers are in the region like Aalsmeer, Westland – all via direct access of the motorway.

 

Q: What is the focus of service at the AMS station?

MV: Our focus is on import and export, handling produce and flowers, and offering our clients an end-to-end solution with Fresh 2 Door service.

 

Q:What is your strategy with the AMS operation?

MV: Specializing in professional and responsive service to the customers, with a single-point-of-contact policy, is the hallmark of our service. We also offer the customer direct service so that they never have to wait for hours to get the attention they need and deserve. It’s a strategic approach that is not only quite appealing  in the marketplace, but is working well for our customers and us.

 

Q:What does the market in The Netherlands and Europe look like?

MV: Markets across Europe have a lot of potential with imports and export of various produce from Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina – and there is a wide range of products for sale on the export markets into Middle East, Far East, and U.S.

 

Q: Who are your biggest customers?

MV: Our biggest customers are the agents who we are flying the products for; and all major fruit, vegetable, and flower importers/exporters in the wholesale markets – as well as the big flowers auctions in Holland, of course.

 

Q: What are the primary products of the region?

MV: The main products we transport by air are flowers, plants, fish, cheese, fruit vegetables, and general cargo.

 

Q: How do you store, ship, and transport product to ensure the best quality?

MV: We are the “go-to professionals” in the business, transporting temperature-controlled products and maintaining a closed cold-chain, as we have the capability to store various products in the right environment and at different temperature settings. All is constantly monitored and measured by qualified, experienced staff.

 

Q:What do you think of the city of Amsterdam? Is Holland your home country?

MV: I was born there in 1971 – a very good year if I may say so myself! Amsterdam is a truly multi-cultural city and has a strong reputation in the world as a lovely town with an amazing flower-bulb market, some cheese farms, and of course the wooden shoes.

 

Q:Are you happy with your assignment in the Prime Group world? And please share a little know fact about Marco Vink that we might find interesting.

MV: I am a father of four children and married to a lovely wife. I started working in the industry in 1992, and accepted various positions in the business of import and export air and ocean logistics of perishable products. I think working for Prime Group gives me a strong motivation to succeed – and hope to have the opportunity to do just that by growing the business, in a nice and stable environment.

 

Q. In addition to the recent Royal FloraHolland Trade Fair Aalsmeer, what other shows are best to attend – in getting the word out about Prime Fresh Handling.

MV: The IFTF show indeed just passed we had a very productive presence, yes. Other shows we are visiting are the Fruit Attraction in Madrid, Fruit logistica in Berlin, the PMA in the USA, Flowers Expo in Moscow, and the Expo Flor in Ecuador.

 

For information, contact General Manager Marco Vink via email at managerams@prime-fresh.com. Also visit www.primeair.aero.

Consumers are finding Prime Planet snacks taste ‘out of this world’

Prime Fresh Products’ line of tropical vegetable snacks is taking off with the introduction of healthy and delicious Prime Planet Parsnip and Cassava Chips.

 

The innovative tropical-packaged food company launched the new product line in September. The new better-for-you chips join the existing – and amazingly popular – Tostones, Maduritos, and Quinoa Cereal presently being produced and distributed by Prime Planet, a division of Prime Fresh Products.

 

Up to this point, the company has primarily been focusing on its flagship product, Prime Planet Tostones, a crunchy green plantain chip that Marcia Tipiana says is the best in the market. Tipiana is Operations Coordinator for Prime Fresh Products, based in Doral, Fla..

 

“We are number one in quality and taste because our Tostones are processed naturally under the highest quality standards, and because they’re a delicious alternative to other typical snack chips in the market,” she says. “Our Tostones are also very popular because they appeal to a growing number of consumers who are nutrition conscious.”

 

With the Tostones serving as an irresistible entree to the healthy-snacking market, Prime Planet is now doubling down by launching chips created from cassava and parsnip, two vegetables that have many health benefits.

 

“We believed we could make parsnip and cassava more appealing to our customers by using the minimum quantity of salt and vegetable oil – and the end result is a unique and new delicious snack option,” said Tipiana.

 

As with the Tostones, vegetable chips are part of growing trend among consumers who want to lead a wellness-oriented lifestyle. Prime Planet products are gluten free, Kosher with no sugars added, and can be part of a balanced healthy diet as well.

 

“Consumers are more health conscious these days, which is why we intentionally market our products as ‘better-for you’ snacks. With such new options in the marketplace, people don’t have to try to snack less, just better – and Prime Planet is well positioned to help meet this emerging demand,” says Tipiana.

 

One of Prime Planet’s core values is something called, “ethical supply sourcing,” where they are very selective in picking their chip ingredients and product suppliers. And with South America being a major plantain producer, at the moment the company is primarily sourcing its product from there.

 

“Our suppliers must follow certain standards such as having a HACPP program (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points Plan), be Kosher certified, and have other quality controls in place,” said Tipiana.

 

In addition to ensuring top quality, Prime Fresh Products also wants its customers to know they are being truthful every step of the way.

 

For instance, she says they do not label their Tostones as “healthy,” rather, they are described as a better option than traditional snack chips.

 

“Consumers love our honesty and the fact that we do everything we can to make our products as natural as possible. At the same time, our chips taste great, they come in awesome packaging, and they’re looked upon as something different for a change. It’s a win-win for everyone,” she added.

 

So where do consumers find Prime Planet Tropical Vegetable Snacks? Right now, at Publix Supermarkets throughout South Florida. But over the next couple years, Tipiana says the trajectory is for Tostones to be available nationwide.

 

Prime Planet is also getting ready to blast off with a new slogan, “A Natural World of Flavor,” driving home the point that by using simple yet innovative ingredients, snacking can be incorporated in a balanced diet without depriving yourself from the tastiest flavors in our planet.

 

Stay tuned. The Prime Planet journey has only just begun.

 

Operations Coordinator Marcia Tipiana may be reached by calling 786-956-0080 or via opscoordinator@primefreshproducts.com. For general information, visit www.primefreshproducts.com.

PrimeAir set sights on Colombia, one of the hottest markets in South America

When people think of Colombia, what often comes to mind is coffee, cut flowers, and emeralds. Prime Group is working hard at adding its name to this list.

 

And with a continued expansion of the company’s presence here, they’re on track to do just that. The umbrella company and its multiple divisions are fast becoming known as Colombia’s top provider of air cargo logistics and services.

 

While the primary focus of Prime Group services here continues to be in support of air carriers and the shipment of perishables – the company is focused on expanding its presence in the highly lucrative Colombian market.

 

With about 25 employees now based in Bogota, they recently boosted staffing to accommodate a shift in focus from a purely PrimeAir office to a diversified Prime Group operation. They are also focused on best accommodating their new relationship with Emirates SkyCargo, the largest cargo airline worldwide in terms of international freight flown.

 

To get a good perspective on the Bogota operation, we recently spoke with Commercial Manager for Colombia José Luis Vargas.

 

Q: Tell us a about your Bogota operation?

JLV: PrimeAir is one of the companies that comprise the Prime Group, dedicated to representing cargo airlines in South America markets. In September, we celebrated our second year of direct operation here with six frequencies per week between Bogotá and Miami with Atlas Air, one of the most important and reliable cargo airlines in the world. Another important point is that we are listed as the second biggest carrier in the market from Colombia to worldwide destinations, according to IATA statistics.

 

  1. With the growing success of the BOG, are you outgrowing your office?

JLV: Well, yes, we’ve been on the move – but that’s certainly a good problem to have! We started with a small office of 500 ft2. in 2017, and quickly had to move into a new space double the size. But it didn’t end there – this year we expanded to an area of 1,700 ft2 for Administrative, Finance & Sales, and Marketing; and to a separate office of 800 ft2 for operations. All tolled, we house 25 employees at Terminal 1, Office 220, of El Dorado International Airport.

 

Q: What is the focus of service here?

JLV: As I mentioned, we are focus primarily on the PrimeAir services, representing airlines in the local market. But being part of the overall Prime Group allows us to provide our customers with a full range of solutions within the supply chain – not only as a carrier but also as a strategic partner with our own facilities in the U.S., Europe, South America, and our strong partnership with companies all over the world. We are also presently building momentum with several new offerings for which new people are being hired, for instance to man our new Vacuum Cooling service; and for our new service with Emirates Sky Cargo here.

 

  1. What is your strategy with the BOG operation?

JLV: When you start a project in a new market, you need to identify one purpose, and start by offering one specialized service. Once that’s established, you can move on. This is what we have done in Colombia. Such an approach helps us avoid improvisations and mistakes that could come at cost in the future. In Colombia we want to replicate what the Prime Group is doing in other parts of the world, and in a very deliberate way. Now we believe is the time for us to diversify our products in Colombia, which is why the company is making important investments in order to serve the market with better solutions and services. It’s an exciting time.

 

  1. What does the Colombian market look like?

JLV: We are seeing hefty increases in market volume. If you compare this year’s Valentines Day season with last (Jan-Feb 2018 v Jan-Feb 2017), we went from 35.336 tons to 40.238 tons moved during that period, according to Asocolflores official report. This represents an increase of 13.9 percent of the volume transported by air this year. To us, this is a positive sign for the upcoming years. Obviously there are some challenges in the sector that must be sorted out and involves different actors (government, flower association, carriers, freight forwarders), but in general we are very optimistic about the future of the economy and the country.

 

Q: Who are your biggest customers?

JLV: In the Colombian market, global agents such as Kuehne & Nagel and Panalpina have a strong presence and consequently are very important partners of ours in the country. But local agents also play a very big role, companies like Logiztik Alliance, Cargex, Masterfreight International, and Cargomaster among others. In fact, most of them are becoming regional partners due to their presence in other countries of the region.

 

Q: What are the primary products of the region?

JLV: The main products we transport by air are flowers, fruit, and fish – all of which are very sensitive commodities requiring special handling processes – which is exactly what we specialize in. Although these products represent more than 90 percent of our total volume, we also transport other many other items that are, frankly, no less difficult to handle, such as aircraft engines, cars, motorcycles, tools and machines for the oil industry, live animals, and more.

 

Q: How do you store, ship, and transport the products?

JLV: In-country shipments are delivered directly by the farms themselves to the airline facilities at the airport. Here, all shipments must pass through a rigorous security process, where all single boxes are scanned and measured – a process that is professionally and competently supervised. After all, when you talk about air transportation, security is a top priority. Then, all shipments pass into to the cool facilities where they are palletized according to the configuration of the aircraft. One hour before each aircraft arrives in Bogotá, the pallets must be ready and waiting on the ramp. The transit time of the aircraft cannot exceed 1.5 hours, before it is loaded up with the outbound cargo. The aircraft has its own cool system that guarantees that the cool chain will never be interrupted. The dynamism and exigency of this business make all your days different.

 

Q: Tell me about the new agreement with Emirates.

JLV: PrimeAir has a long-time relationship with Emirates. In Ecuador, EK operates four direct flights per week from Quito to Amsterdam, under PrimeAir representation. In that sense, the cooperation between both companies is very well established. Now, Colombia is an interesting market due to its volume of flowers being exported not only to the U.S., which has been the country’s traditional main partner, but also to Europe, the Middle East, Far East, and Oceania – markets that are served by Emirates with its immense network around the world. We are starting a four-day a week operation to Dubai and beyond, via Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) in cooperation with Avianca Airlines as a feeder for the transit from BOG to FLL. This is a great opportunity for the Colombian market to get into Dubai in just one day using the direct AWB of Emirates, which makes the transit times in FLL fast and easy.

 

  1. With the Quito Flower Show season behind us, are there other trade shows that are of equal importance to attend?

JLV: Yes, we always attend the Quito and Bogotá flowers shows, and Air Cargo Americas in Miami. This year we also attended the Amsterdam, Moscow, Guangzhou, and Tokyo flowers shows. And we already have a full agenda for the next year, including perhaps attending the Intermodal show in Sao Paulo in 2019.

 

  1. What do you think of the city of Bogota?

JLV: Bogotá is a main capital known for a wide range of attractive cultural and culinary offerings. With a population of almost nine million people, it is an amazing location to do business, as it is the base hub for most of the country’s biggest and most important companies. Bogota also benefits due to its location in the heart of Cundinamarca, the region where 70 percent of the total production of flowers is generated.

 

  1. Are you happy with your assignment in the Prime Group world?

JLV: Yes, I am quite happy indeed. Let me tell you a quick story: I had been in the sector for seven years, when I left Lufthansa Cargo to join with Prime Group in 2014. This was a new project and, as I mentioned, we started with a very small office. One of the reasons for going with Prime Group was that the company already had an impressive presence and was well recognized in other markets at that time – so in that sense I knew I was joining a serious group. But the main driver was the vision and sense of purpose of the company that made me believe in this project. Now, five years later, I can tell you it was the right decision and I feel very proud and honored to be part of this company and in the role I play.

 

For information, contact Commercial Manager José Luis Vargas via email at joseluis.vargas@primeair.aero or by calling 305-735-3570. Also visit www.primeair.aero.