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Not so rosy Valentine’s for exporters of flowers

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A worker packs flowers for export at a farm in Naivasha on February 10, 2017. FILE PHOTO NMG

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Summary

  • Insufficient freight capacity and cancellation of flights due to severe storms in some European countries are weighing down on Kenyan flower exporters.
  • Kenya which generated Sh110 billion in sales in 2020 up from Sh104 billion in 2019, suffers shortage of cargo capacity of about 1,000 tonnes.

Insufficient freight capacity and cancellation of flights due to severe storms in some European countries are weighing down on Kenyan flower exporters’ outlook for business this Valentine's season, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) said over the weekend.

KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi who spoke ahead of Valentine’s Day , celebrated every year on 14 February, said Kenya which generated Sh110 billion in sales in 2020 up from Sh104 billion in 2019, suffers shortage of cargo capacity of about 1,000 tonnes.

This plus weather disruptions in key European capitals are expected to affect supply, according to the umbrella body for Kenyan flower farmers who have been angling for the season boost sales. About 40 per cent of annual sales made by Kenyan flower farms to European markets are conducted during Valentines season which was celebrated on Sunday. While the Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14, players in the sector start shipping flowers to European markets from mid-January, said KFC.

Mr Tulezi also said sales are expected to be curtailed by recent airport shutdowns in Europe due to bad weather. Northern Europe is currently being hit by a major storm affecting several countries including Britain, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France.

“The orders are there but we don’t have don’t have capacity,” Mr Tulezi told Business Daily.

“The airport shutdown in Netherlands could also affect supply.”

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport had by press time suspended all flights and the Dutch national rail service halted all trains as a powerful storm lashed the Netherlands, toppling trees and causing traffic chaos.

Kenya exported 170,000 tonnes of flowers in 2020. Over 70 per cent were sold in the European Union through the Netherlands and United Kingdom, said Mr Tulezi.