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Increased demand for Kenyan flowers in the US excites producers and exporters

IFTEX flower expo

Participant at the recently concluded International Floriculture Trade Expo (IFTEX) in Nairobi. Photo courtesy.

The increased demand of Kenyan flowers in the United States (US) has exited the producers and exporters of the fresh produce in Kenya who are now seeking for more cargo space Kenya Airways (KQ) to enable them to meet the demand.

Since the launch of KQ’s maiden flight to New York, the airline has been allocating five tonnes cargo space for agricultural products which include only two tonnes cargo space for flowers against the current demand of up to 10 tonnes cargo space.

“The current space allocated for flowers in KQ is not enough as compared to the increased demand in the US and I am afraid that if we do not get enough space to export the commodity we may fail to acquire more markets for our flowers in the US markets,” said Clement Tulezi, CEO of Kenya Flower Council.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pact gives Kenyan flower exporters easy US access

The council is now appealing to Kenya Airways and its international partners to consider allocating them a fully dedicated direct cargo flight instead of a passenger flight which limits the cargo capacity.

Connecting flights require at least three loading and off-loading stages processes which end up compromising the quality, quantity and delivery time of the fresh produce, according to Susan Kuria, Marketing Director at Flawless Flowers International.

“Flowers are highly perishable goods that need to be handled well during transport and be reached to the designated markets within the shortest time possible hence direct dedicated flight would help us reach the markets while the flowers are still fresh,” said Susan.

RELATED ARTICLE: Fact sheet on growing cut flowers for export

According to her, currently, KQ is the only direct flight to the US and its cargo space is always fully booked leaving exporters who have not booked the space with an alternative of connecting flights which have high risks that affect the quality of the produce upon arrival to the designated markets.

“The US market has a lot of potentials but the market rates have become too expensive due to flight costs. For instance, due to the small cargo capacity which is currently booked up to September, there is no more space left for those interested to use the flight,” said Susan. 

The council is now engaging the government to help in the matter.

RELATED ARTICLE: Flower, fruit and vegetable producers and exporters seek government support to boost the sector

As per the 2019 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey, export earnings from cut flowers grew by 37.7 per cent from Sh82.2bn in 2017 to Sh113.2bn in 2018, to form the main driver of the 9.6 per cent increase in the performance of the horticulture sector.

Currently, Kenya exports flowers to over 60 destinations with more diverse opportunities available in the US, Japan, India, China, Canada, Australia, and Eastern Europe.

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