Shipping & Logistics

Mother’s Day flower exports double trips for freight firms

Flower firm workers in Naivasha in 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Flower firm workers in Naivasha in 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyan air freight companies have reported a doubling in flower exports in the past week, and doubled flights to Europe, due to Mother’s Day, which will be commemorated on March 11 this year in the UK.

Global industry experts describe the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day as the biggest of the year for florists, as consumers buy fresh flowers to gift to the matriarch of the household.

According to 2016 research from Analysys Coresight Research, flowers are the most popular Mother’s Day gift in the UK, bought by 25 per cent of consumers in total flower spending of £255m (Sh36.2bn).

The UK is one of Kenya’s main markets for flowers, making the country’s emphasis on flowers for the Day a key market driver, which has also prompted an increase in the number of cities that the Kenyan flowers are transported to the UK, with the air freight now also being trucked to the British cities of Newcastle, Manchester and Southampton.

Overall, flower exports from Kenya have doubled from Sh35.50bn in 2010, to Sh70.80bn in 2016, due to increased demand from new international markets, according to the latest report by the Kenya Flower Council.

But there is typically a big surge in trade in the first quarter of each year.

“We use an Airbus A330-300 for exports to Europe. Before Mother’s Day, we were exporting approximately 65 tonnes on each flight and since we fly five times a week, it amounted to 325 tonnes, but now we have had to double our flights to 10 a week in order to transport 650 tonnes of flowers to other cities in Europe,” said an industry insider.

“We export to the UK, the Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland and Germany. Now that the demand has increased, we still go to the same destinations, however, flowers are now trucked to other cities. The same case goes for the Netherlands; other than Amsterdam, flowers are now also trucked to Maastricht after landing in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.”

The fortunes of Kenya’s air freight services are closely tied to the flower market, given that Kenya is a major exporter to the European Union, which buys 38 per cent of all of the country’s cut flowers, with the main markets being Holland, UK, Germany, France, and Switzerland, according to the Kenya Flower Council.

January to March is the peak season for the flower exports from Kenya, due to Valentine’s Day (February 14) and Mother’s Day in the UK.

“On special occasions like Mother’s Day, we have our biggest sales,” said Clement Tulezi, the CEO of Kenya Flower Council.

“In terms of the export market, and given that we command a big market share in Europe, it is when most exporters conduct their business, because there is always a sharp rise in demand”.

- African Laughter