US firms scout for deals at city flower expo ahead of direct KQ flights

An exhibitor at a past Nairobi Iftex event. FILE PHOTO | NMG
An exhibitor at a past Nairobi Iftex event. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

US firms are among exhibitors set to debut in the seventh edition of the International Flower Trade Expo (Iftex) in Nairobi, thanks to the impending launch of direct flights to US in October. 

Iftex says the merchants want to take advantage of the flights by Kenya Airways to New York to cut the long process of getting produce through Amsterdam.

The expo to be held next month comes at a time Kenya is trying to diversify its market from Europe to Asian countries seen as a potential market for cut flowers.

“Over eight big firms from the US have confirmed attendance in the forthcoming expo and all this is because Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will be commencing direct flights to America later in the year,” said Dick Van Raamsdonk, CEO Iftex.

The move to diversify is aimed at cutting overreliance on European Union (EU) market that buys over 50 per cent of the total export flowers.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive officer Clement Tulezi said the country has been coping with stiff competition from such countries as Ethiopia with highly subsidised farm produce at the global market.

“Ethiopian farmers enjoy huge subsidies from their government while our cost of production remains high. This is giving Ethiopian an upper hand in the market,” said Mr Tulezi.

Mr Tulezi urged the government to offer financial incentives to growers in the country as well as tax relief on farm equipment to make the sector competitive in the world market.

He said Kenya is now eying to grow the Asian markets of Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore to tap on the existing potential.