Kenya’s horticulture produce in high demand in the European Union market. Photo courtesy.
Kenyan horticulture crops such as flowers, fruits and vegetables are currently in high demand in the European Union market pushing Kenyan horticulture exporters into intensive hunt for the produce from farmers who are struggling to meet the expectation.
Already the exporters are experiencing much orders for the produce from European Countries as they gear up for the high season in October 2018 to May 2019.
The European Union is the largest market for cut flowers from Kenya at 38 per cent, approximately 50 per cent of cut flowers from Kenya are sold through the Dutch auction. During the month of October, countries such as the UK celebrate the Halloween holiday, which can be a driving factor in the increase in exports as consumers use cut flowers as decorations.
In fact, data released in October 2017 by Floridata, a UK horticulture research company shows that in October 2016, flower exports in the UK grew by two per cent with cut flowers account for the largest growth in turnover at approximately 10 per cent.
Therefore, as the autumn season continues in Europe, exporters in Kenya are dealing with high demand for flowers, passion fruits and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
“It is the high season for horticulture exports in Kenya, all the products are in demand now. The low season starts in early June and ends in September. It is when enquiries from importers are high, there is a scarcity of produce due to increase supply and it is when the prices rise so there is a lot of activity during this period,” said Simon Kirima, CEO of Kerry’s Kool Fresh, a Kenyan horticulture export company.
Currently, Kirima is experiencing a high demand for passion fruits and has even been forced to turn down some clients because he cannot meet the demand. He is exporting two tonnes of passion fruits to the UK every week and is expecting it grow to three tonnes during the period. Also, in the last week, he has received three enquiries from importers in the Netherlands.
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Additionally, the weather, hot and dry, is currently favourable such that the fruits mature faster, in 60 days, hence production is higher compared to the previous, cool and wet weather, which stagnated the growth of the fruits.
“In Europe, there is a consumption pattern, there are four seasons; summer, autumn, winter and spring. During this season, they are mostly at home rather than travelling, so the food products purchased, including fruits, are for immediate consumption and not storage. We, therefore, expect in November, December and January the demand to be very high,” said Kirima.
For Eunice Mutua, CEO of Select Fresh Produce exporters in fruits and vegetables, she is also experiencing a high demand of passion fruits but the scarcity is already being felt as it is sold out in the farms or pre-booked by other exporters.
“At the moment, very few farmers in the country have passion fruits which can be difficult in meeting clients’ demand,” said Mutua.
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Demand in other produce such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes is being driven by its nutritional value. It contains 77 per cent water, 20 per cent carbohydrate, 1.6 per cent protein, three per cent fibre and almost no fat and has also been found to have anti-carcinogenic properties thus helping in the reduction of the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women.
In this, Mutua is currently experiencing a demand for one container every week, which contains approximately 28 tonnes of sweet potatoes. She is exporting the produce to the UK, where their buyers are involved in the value addition of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
“The buyers from the UK are seeking to engage in the value addition of sweet potatoes including the making of bread, children’s porridge or puree among other products. This has driven its demand,” said Mutua.
Besides this, Kenyan exporters are also expecting high demand for mangoes from the UK and Netherlands as its season begins next month until February next year.
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