Capacity Opens for Flowers with introduction of Emirates SkyCargo Passenger Freighters

It is relieving for many in the industry to see the enormous boost in capacity that Emirates SkyCargo is bringing to the air-cargo market, with a fleet of B777-300ER Passenger Freighters (PF).

This move comes at an especially crucial time, due to the current burst in worldwide consumer demand for fresh-cut flowers for Mother’s Day – and an understandable eagerness throughout the flower-producing regions to be able to get their product to market.

There is no question that vital health and medical supplies must get to where they are needed, and there has been a doubling of demand for pharmaceutical shipments that are critical to COVID-19 crisis.

Air cargo carriers worldwide have been grappling with high demand since freight capacity started to nosedive in February. In fact, by March, IATA reported that freight capacity had fallen nearly 23 percent as a result of belly cargo space in passenger airlines being pulled from the market due to flight cancellations.

With such insufficient capacity, this innovative move by Emirates SkyCargo is helping in the short-term by adding capacity to cargo market with passenger aircraft that would otherwise be sitting idle.

Using dedicated passenger B777-300ERs for cargo only, they are able to cater to the humanitarian response, as well as help with the wider range of existing logistics needs worldwide.

PrimeAir is grateful to be able offer this “new-found” capacity to its customers in the flower industry. The arrival of the very first PF flight deployed by Emirates SkyCargo into Quito was a very assuring sight to see, indeed.

We are also proud to be associated with Emirates SkyCargo, a world-class cargo airline that has shown real initiative by introducing this unique service – and right on time!

Prime Logistics is ready when you are

As the world works together to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Logistics is stepping up to do its part, by providing expert logistics services to customers who need immediately delivery of essential goods to the most affected countries.

Because timing is everything during this crucial period, and there is no room for error, the company has staff and representatives positioned and ready in key locations around the globe – right now.

To make the world aware of Prime Logistics’ availability and expertise, they are sharing this important message via direct outreach to government agencies, public and private interests, and freight forwarders around the world.

Standing by, 24/7, their highly-capable team of movement managers has the necessary expertise to work with most major industry types. From pharmaceutical companies and makers of hospital equipment, to electronics and heavy equipment manufacturers – and of course, distributors of time-sensitive perishables – Prime Logistics has the know how.

They are widely respected for their skills in custom creating smart logistics solutions that shorten the process, cut transfer times, and quickly resolve complications that arise along the way.

Prime Logistics is a division of Prime Group, a Miami-based air cargo and international logistics conglomerate founded in 2001.

With hundreds of contacts around the globe, Prime Logistics reps are skilled at finding competitive rates and ample space via air and ocean shipment to virtually any destination.

Cargo handled/services provided worldwide by Prime Logistics include:

  • Pharma
  • Medical Supplies
  • AOG
  • Perishables
  • Hazardous Material
  • Project Cargos
  • Time-Sensitive Cargo
  • Live Animal
  • Human Remain
  • Military Cargo
  • Pick up
  • Delivery
  • Customs
  • Crating
  • Warehousing
  • Pre-Cooling
  • Valuable Cargo

Big or small – whether it’s one box or multiple pallets, customers team up with Prime Logistics to avoid the need to juggle multiple service providers all over the world.

For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Home sweet home – with a bag of Tostones!

If you’re stuck at home right now with a bag of Tostones, you’re not alone.

As the nation struggles due to the spread of the Coronavirus, many companies, including Prime Fresh Products, have dispatched staff to work remotely at home.

While this may present whole new set of “workplace” challenges, the employees here are as committed as ever to being responsive to customers, especially to retailers of Prime Planet Tostones. Because they’re really taking off these days.

It appears homebound consumers are looking for a healthier chip while working or watching the kids all day – and they are finding Tostones irresistible.

With orders for all four varieties on the rise, one might say we are doing our part to help people snack their way through this crisis.

“We have seen an increase of more than 40 percent in orders for April,” says Marie Gonzalez who heads up business development for Prime Fresh Products and the Prime Planet brand.

“This may be due in part to a big spring promotion, and the introduction of our Tostones in Puerto Rico and Orlando, but it is also clear that this COVID-19 situation has nudged end costumers who desire a really good healthy snack.”

Historically, during emergency situations such as hurricanes and major snowstorms, there is a precipitous increase in demand for cookies, basic chips, and other salty snacks due the families remaining at home.

But because consumers are being more health conscious these days, they are looking for alternative, better-for-you snacks. Add to that the fact that Americans are increasingly more multicultural, so they also are open to trying new products.

“Clearly the big selling point is its appeal as an all-natural product,” Gonzalez added. “Not to mention the overall quality and flavor of our crunchier chips when compared among competitors.”

She says the other standout is the wide range of flavors available, with the sweet chili variety being the latest to be introduced. This delicious chip serves to complement the existing lineup of popular flavors that includes Habanero, Lime, and the Original chip.

One last point is that at a time when many people are staying at home and self-isolating, they are looking for products that not only taste great, but also have a long shelf life.

About Prime Fresh Products
Founded in 2016 PFP finds the finest food products from around the world and then import, distributes, and transports them on to the shelf in the U.S. Prime Planet is a brand of PFP that that focuses on the production of ready to eat green plantain chips, called Tostones, for the retail and wholesale industry.

PFP is a division of Prime Group Holdings, located at 1301 NW 84th Ave. Suite 127, Miami, FL 33126 USA. For information, visit www.primefreshproducts.com or contact Marie Gonzalez at 305-592-2044 or via email at bdm@primefreshproducts.com.

Stop Being Afraid of What Could Go Wrong And Think of What Could Go Right

Right before our eyes, the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it – and along with it, the cargo and logistics industry.

As the coronavirus continues to be profoundly disruptive to the global supply chain, few companies have been able to escape its devastating impact, and many may not survive.

Prime Group will not be among them.

On Course
Long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, Prime Group had already charted a course of successful diversification. So although our core business of shipping fresh cut flowers is taking a big hit right now, we’ve been able to trim our sails and swiftly move into supporting the logistics needs of myriad other specialized industries.

And right on time.

As long-time experts in handling perishables, fortunately we’ve been able to stay busy helping to meet the worldwide demand for fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. After all, people still need access to food supply.

And not to make light, they also have to snack while at home all day self-isolating. So our product line of Tostones is coming in quite handy for that.

But more than anything, because of our agility as a company and our well established ability in handling highly specialized pharmaceuticals and other commodities related to the medical field, this is where we are now putting great emphasis.

Doing Our Part
I know I speak for the entire Prime Group team, when I say we are very proud to be able to play this important role in helping countries across the world get access to the essential goods they need right now.

This pandemic doesn’t look quite like anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. Trying to plan or make predictions in a time of such uncertainty is really hard.

But what I do know is, as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, the people of Prime Group will continue to be there for you, our customers.

Protecting Our Team
In order to maintain the highest levels of service while protecting the health of our team, many of our employees are currently working remotely. A small staff remains in the office, where there is restricted access for all non-essential employees and visitors. Also, as our warehouses are still receiving and dispatching as normal, rest assured, we are in accordance with local health mandates and advisories.

The dedication exhibited by our team, many of whom are also facing immense personal challenges at this difficult time, has been truly remarkable.

I am confident will we make it through this trying time and come out on the other side stronger, healthier, and more resilient than ever.

I believe it was Tony Robbins who once said, “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and think of what could go right.” So, please stay calm, think positively, and be healthy my friends.

Prime Group Works with Pharmaceutical Customers to Help People Worldwide

Among the ever-expanding portfolio of specialized services offered by Prime Logistics and Prime Fresh Handling (PFH) is the worldwide shipment, handling, and expert monitoring of pharmaceuticals and biologics.

With state-of-the-art facilities in Europe, South American, and across North America, as well as a 24-7 team of agents on at its operations center in Miami, these Prime Group companies are uniquely qualified to meet – and exceed – the customer demands of this highly specialized industry.

Customer agents from around the world, working with the major pharmaceutical suppliers of the World Health Organization (WHO), more often turn to the Prime Group due to its long-term history of managing time-critical shipments like vaccines and biologics.

Fast, Reliable, Direct
Based in such distant places as Indonesia, India, the Philippines, according to Prime Group Chief Operating Officer Omar Zambrano, “Freight forwarders worldwide know our name and our global reputation for fast, reliable, and direct transportation of pharmaceuticals.”

Stationed at the company’s base of operations in Miami, Prime Logistics Operations Agent Bryan Rivas is one of few people in air cargo logistics who know more about time-sensitive products and the tight and ever-changing rules that govern their movement.

“My role is to find the best way to beat the clock, safely and reliably, of course. Because in many cases, door-to-door service from one corner of the world to the other needs to take place within 48 hours, when possible.”

But it’s not just time, it’s also about temperature consistency. Vaccines and biologics in particular must stay within specific temperature ranges every step of the way – during transit, while in storage, and right up to the point of arrival. Such attention to detail ensures these products maintain their efficacy. Otherwise, they are unuseable.

Diphtheria, Tetanus & Polio
For instance in late February, Prime Logistics was called into action to ship 200 vials of highly sensitive Diphtheria and Tetanus Vaccines; and 3,000 vials of live oral polio vaccine from Jakarta all the way to the Ministry of Health in Belize City. Mission accomplished – just in time for the next shipment of a similar set of vaccines to Asuncion, Paraguay.

Certified & Ready
Rivas also makes it his job to stay on top of all of the industry’s complex shipping regulations and standards for the proper transport of pharmaceuticals. In fact, serving as the certified go-to agent at Prime Logistics for pharmaceutical shipments, he recently attended a three-day course in Temperature Controlled Cargo Operations, given by IATA in Miami. Cargo airline representatives, forwarders, and other cargo agents attended it from all across the Southeast U.S.

Welcome Yulieth Onofre
In light of the company’s continued growth of this and several other commercial product lines, Prime Logistics just recently expanded its team with the addition of Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre.

According to CEO Roger Paredes, who made the announcement March 1, Onofre possesses a background with multiple ocean carriers and many years of experience in the industry and will be responsible for all commercial efforts on the freight forwarding side of the Group. Welcome aboard!

Surgical Masks
In related news, Prime Logistics also recently managed the shipment of thousands of surgical masks from Ecuador and Columbia to Shanghai to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. This shipment first transited in Miami before leaving for PVG, where the masks were then transported by truck to various inland cities throughout China.

Quito Operation Goes With the Flow for International Women’s Day

Although International Women’s Day was founded in the U.S., it has grown in significance in many other countries worldwide – and Prime Group’s operations in Quito continues to play a key role in keeping this annual tradition going strong.

With Ecuador serving as the primary source of flowers for this March 8 holiday each year, the efforts of both PrimeAir and Prime Fresh Handling in Quito and Amsterdam are crucial to advancing the company’s winning strategies at meeting the demand of its valued customers.

The Ecuadorian flower market supplies 72 countries around the world with floriculture products. But when it comes to Women’s Day, Europe is the number one market.

In order to ensure the fresh and timely delivery of fresh-cut flowers by March 8 – the day people recognize the most important women in their lives – the peak period for handling and shipping actually begins Feb. 16.

According to PrimeAir Regional Sales Director Jose Luis Suarez, in terms of logistics support, every year is different – but this year, there were several unique aspects at play.

“It was a good season for us, no doubt. First, there was notable increase in air cargo capacity, meaning more service than normal was available out of Quito. But to this we must add factors that were outside the control of the industry that also affected the market and production of flowers.”

Suarez was primarily referring to last fall’s situation in Ecuador during which plantations were attacked by the protesters who barricade roads across the country in response to government policies to end diesel and gasoline subsidies. As a result, fuel prices to spiked across the country – as did tempers – which in turn prevented the normal development of the market.

“The protests did negatively affect overall production, because it delayed the cutting of the plants for the Valentine’s Day period. But apparently this helped to make production for Women’s Day season more stable,” he added.

Ultimately, PrimeAir was able to move 1.2 million kilos of flowers over the two week peak period, Feb. 16 to March 1. “Meeting this challenge took a lot of hard work, but for us, hard work is regular work – and it’s what prepares us to continually be attentive to providing the high levels of service and reliability that our customers demand.”

And so it goes working in a market as sensitive to outside pressures as the fresh-cut flowers.

About Women’s Day
For more than 100 years, International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually round the world on the 8th of March. A public holiday in many countries, it is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights that started back to 1910, when the day was first observed across America and Europe. Later, in 1946, feminists in Italy chose the mimosa flower as a symbol of strength, sensibility, and sensitivity for Women’s Day.

Today, although the mimosa flower maintains a special significance, it’s not the only flower given. Other flowers popular flowers to gift on International Women’s Day are lilies, alstroemerias, tulips, orchids, and roses.

In fact, flower shops across Russia sell upwards of 150,000 roses on March 8. And while pink, yellow, and white carnations are also hugely popular, light pink flowers are highly preferable in the U.K.

Elsewhere in Europe, such as in Romanian, purchasers want red and white flowers, and Greek purchasers mostly buy white flowers. Pastel colors are most preferable in the Western European countries while those in the Eastern European countries buy mostly vivid colored-flowers.

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

Regional Sales Director Jose Luis Suarez may be reached in Quito via email at joseluis.suarez@primeair.aero, via cellphone at (593-9) 9 555-3195, or at (593-2) 281-8055, ext. 1006.

The Secret to Handling Uncertainty is to Focus on Progress

As a businessman, a father, and a member of the world community, I’m very concerned, as most of us are. I’ve been closely monitoring news of the progression of coronavirus around the globe – and its impact on the markets and the logistics industry, in particular.

Yet all I can be sure of these days is that there are very few things we can be sure of.

In fact, as I share these words, news just popped up that the global death toll has now passed 3,000, with South Korea and China leading the way in confirmed infections.

Apparently they are calling this thing a “novel” coronavirus, because it’s an all-new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. They know for sure it causes a highly infectious respiratory disease called COVID-19. But beyond that, they are unsure how and when it will be brought under control. Meanwhile, we wash our hands, cover our coughs, and limit exposure to crowded areas.

And we stay tuned. That’s what I have been doing, gathering all the information I can from trusted sources of information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization. I encourage you to so the same.

Impact on Logistics
With regard to the health of the logistics industry, we should likewise keep a close eye on what is happening as the world’s second largest economy, in China, continues to spook global markets and dent growth in all sectors of the worldwide economy.

To say the potential impact of coronavirus on the logistics industry is a fluid situation is an understatement, because, as we all know, we are more interconnected today than ever. Asian markets are closely tied to European markets and to North America and South America.

For those who remember SARS in 2003, this situation is far more complex because back then, the economy worldwide was much more siloed. Today it is all interdependent.

Thus far, however, the impact of this epidemic on Prime Group operations has been minimal – but it’s not clear how much worse this outbreak will yet become and how long it will last. Some experts are now saying perhaps through the summer.

Global Impact
I just read a late February study by the American Chamber of Commerce stating that three-quarters of international businesses around the world expect the COVID-19 outbreak to impact 2020 revenue.

The study further states that the outbreak has affected operations “to a great extent” for 43 percent of logistics companies they surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region, with 57 percent of logistics companies saying operations were “somewhat” impacted. In terms of revenues, the report also indicated that the 86 percent of logistics companies are expecting revenue to be down between 1 and 10 percent.

What’s even more disconcerting is that the fear of what could happen is driving the markets. Yes, few things these days are for sure. But there is certainly always hope.

Let’s Focus on Progress
I think it was author and life coach Tony Robbins who once said, “The secret to handling uncertainty is to focus on progress.”

So as I get back to work this morning, I do know one thing: We are in this together. We will get past this together. If we all stay focused on progress, soon it will be business-as-usual again, I’m sure.

PrimeAir is ready to ‘Go Eastern’

Big news in the airline industry is the resurgence of Eastern Airlines – and it’s big news for the Prime Group, too.

Dedicated to honoring the tradition of Eastern Airlines, the management team overseeing the comeback of this legendary brand has been busy planning for a long time. And now it’s gears up, as they just launched scheduled service between New York and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

During its heyday, Eastern Airlines was one of the original ”big four” domestic U.S. carriers, before folding in 1991. But in January 2002, it returned (again) to the skies, beginning with a route to Aeropuerto Internacional José Joaquín De Olmedo (GYE) out of New York’s JFK. It is also set to serve Georgetown, Guyana; and Jinan, China, flying extended-range Boeing 767s.

On their website, they state they are committed to getting it right this time, because their attention to detail “is focused on the tiniest mechanical check and even the cobalt blue stitching on Seat 17B.”

Eastern Checks In
Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that, when it came to attaining full-service cargo support on the ground in Guayaquil, the new Eastern checked in first with PrimeAir, Ecuador’s most established GSSA (General Sales & Service Agent).

“This is very good news for us,” says Prime Group CEO Roger Paredes. “With our significant presence in New York, this will provide even greater capacity into JFK, allowing us to further expand our business in New York, as well.”

The GSSA agreement with Eastern Airlines was signed in late January in time to begin cargo service on Feb. 1. PrimeAir is one of four Prime Group companies that include Prime Logistics, Prime Fresh Handling, and Prime Fresh Products – all of which operate throughout the U.S., Ecuador, Colombia and Europe.

PrimeAir is looking forward to filling the widebody bellies of Eastern’s once-weekly passenger flights with such specialized cargo as fish from coast of Ecuador, tropical fruits, and of course flowers from Quito and Cuenca.

And with Eastern’s strategy of continuing to open up flights to other underserved markets, it would appear the sky’s the limit for potential new growth – for both companies.

For nearly 20 years, PrimeAir has been providing the GSSA services in Latin America for some of the biggest players in air cargo – such as Atlas Air and Emirates SkyCargo, just to name a few. In fact, Ecuador is PrimeAir’s historic base of operations, where it all started in 2001.

What We Do Best
Closely supervising the action on the ground in Ecuador, PrimeAir’s team there has decades of experience handling perishables that make up a significant portion of the market. They benefit from being part of the Prime Group, a network of coordinated cargo and freight specialists with offices and representatives worldwide, in making cargo services, operations, handling, and accounting easy and reliable for airlines working across the globe.

Today’s Eastern Airlines is an entirely different company than the Eastern Air Lines of old. It is born out of a charter company called Dynamic Airways based outside of Philadelphia, in Wayne, Pa.

The carrier currently has eight aircraft, all of which are various models of the Boeing 767. The new livery is a unique design inspired by the local colors and geography of the destinations they will serve.

With a new slogan of “Go Eastern,” PrimeAir is ready to go along for the ride!

Prime Group’s Long Affair With Valentine’s Day

If you’re involved in any sector of the fresh-cut flower business and you’re reading this right now – get back to work!

Although we’re just moving out of the peak Valentine’s Day period, January 25 through February 7, there’s still a lot of work to be done. With International Women’s Day around the corner, the clock is ticking and there’s little time to rest.

But all kidding aside, I’m glad you’re here, because it gives me an opportunity to say thanks to all of our freight forwarders with whom we get to work so closely this time of year, and to our shippers and air carriers who so depend on us.

I’m also grateful for the passion for perfection exhibited by our team of dedicated hard-working employees who continue to do what they do best – especially over the past few weeks.

The monstrously high volumes we are presently handling is nearly unimaginable for the typical consumer. But we’re used to it. We’ve been working with perishables for so long, it’s become second nature to expect nothing less – and to provide nothing short of perfection.

So hats off to the dedicated folks in our two divisions that play such an integral role in preparing, shipping, and delivering such delicate and highly time-sensitive product as fresh-cut flowers – PrimeAir and Prime Fresh Handling. Our customers depend on you and you deliver every day.

This is also the time of year that my business partner Omar Zambrano and I pay homage to the company’s core business of providing top-line logistics support for the flower industry. Since day one, shipping roses and other fresh-cut flowers from South America to the U.S., and now Europe and beyond, has been our main focus.

In fact, flowers are the very reason Prime Group exists today – and continues to succeed. They are the seed that started it all, and that are allowing the company to thrive and strategically expand into other profitable business and product lines.

It’s a busy time. It’s an exciting time. And there’s always time to say thank you.

So thanks! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

Helping to Make Life’s Little Moments the Biggest

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year – a time to show that special someone just how much they mean to you. Most often, it comes down to a beautiful little moment on this one special day, perfectly accentuated with a breathtaking bouquet of long-stem roses.

And then it is done. Mission accomplished – for the thousands of people behind the scenes, as well, who have toiled for weeks to ensure this exact moment goes without a hitch. People like the team of professional employees at Prime Fresh Handling and PrimeAir.

For them, however, the biggest moment all year is a 17-day stretch of time, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 7. It’s that small window during which they tap into their years of expertise to expertly manage the myriad logistical complexities in transporting millions of pounds of Valentine’s Day flowers – from source country to the florist, just in time for Feb. 14.

Growing Demand
Valentine’s Day is big business. There’s no question about it. And the role these dedicated workers play is crucial to supporting the every-growing demand for fresh flowers. Valentine’s Day sales for 2020 is expected to reach $27.4 billion in the U.S. alone – an increase of $6.7 billion dollars in sales from 2019.

So how are the numbers stacking up for PrimeAir and Prime Fresh Handling? Business is on a continuous upward swing. In fact, according to Regional Sales Director Jose Luis Suarez, one of the primary indicators is the volume of shipments coming out Bogota – the rose capital of the world and primary supplier of the U.S. Valentine’s Day market. In terms of tonnage, he says the Prime team fully expects to see an increase of 15 percent into Miami.

“On any given week, we operate about six cargo flights per week, but in order to meet the heightened demand, we’ve significantly boosted capacity leading up to Valentine’s Day. Over this peak 17-day period, we’ve been carrying literally triple the volume we normally handle, with about 48 total flights,” he added.

That amounts to three B747s flights per day carrying 100,000 kilos of crated flowers per flight – the equivalent of more than 100 tons!

“And that’s just what we’re handling. Considering that multiple other handlers and carriers are also putting in extra capacity to handle the demand over this same time period,” Suarez added, “that’s a lot of rose petals!

Projections out of Quito are equally impressive. According to the Expoflores, the National Association of Producers and Exporters of Flowers of Ecuador, air shipment of flowers during this same period, Jan. 20 – Feb. 8, were also projected to be up year-over-year, by 6 percent to the U.S.; 9 percent to Europe and Russia; and 20 percent to “other” locations.

On the Horizon
Flowers from Ecuador primarily go to supply Europe demand, with PrimeAir operating two extra flights to Amsterdam for the Valentine’s period and four extra flights in advance of International Women’s Day, coming up in March.

The peak period for Women’s Day is Feb. 16-28. After that, shippers get a break until Mother’s Day, May 12, which means everyone in the industry will be super busy again the last week of April through May 4.

Well in excess of 20 million flowers from Colombia and Ecuador are planned be cut, gathered, and shipped during the 2020 Valentine’s Day/Women’s Day season.

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

Regional Sales Director Jose Luis Suarez may be reached in Quito via email at joseluis.suarez@primeair.aero, via cellphone at (593-9) 9 555-3195, or at (593-2) 281-8055, ext. 1006.