Fair Trade roses mainly are available in the retail segment, not in the premium segment. That's because the retail chain is shorter and more transparent than the chain of flower shops. Retailers express themselves with socially responsible products. But premium segment consumers also want to buy these products. So apart from the fact that Fair Trade products are good for people and the planet, there is a market to be gained.
Two Kenyan Rose nurseries took the challenge. From now on the roses of Porini Flowers and Isinya Roses are Fair Trade roses. Ralf van de Wiel and Ton van Stijn of Global Flower Service BV (the agents of the two growers) are very enthusiastic about it.
Fair Trade is about social aspects of production. It imposes rules on participating companies about employees’ salaries, labour relations and the access of trade unions. There also is a surcharge on the price, the so-called Premium. This money is collected separately and is transferred by the Fair Trade organisation to the employees of the company. An employees’ committee decides what will happen with this money. Sometimes it is used for extra medical care, for schooling, a sports field or a community building. As long as it benefits the society of employees. By the way, MPS-A or a compatible certificate is also part of Fair Trade.
Many Kenyan growers comply with most of the Fair Trade rules. Administrating the rules however, means extra work. On top of that there is the management of the Premium money and the role of trade unions within their company. “Our growers choose for Fair Trade”, say Ralf van de Wiel and Ton van Stijn. “They wish to be innovative and they wish to guarantee their social and environmental ambitions to their customers. Their nurseries will be more attractive employers too.”
Global Flower Service BV (GFS) is an agent for growers in Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda. The company unburdens its growers by looking for sales, preparing flowers for auctioning and advising (mainly on sales and quality). GFS has growers in the premium and in the retail segment. It wishes to give attention to its growers and therefore it chooses for a controlled growth. “We advised Porini Flowers and Isinya Rose to start with Fair Trade. Socially responsible production differentiates you on the market and that goes for the premium market too.”
“Of course using Fair Trade Flowers in flower shops has its difficulties. There is more to a bouquet then just roses. Dutch chrysanthemums or tulips cannot be Fair Trade, so a bouquet with these flowers in it can never be Fair Trade too. Yet we see opportunities in African growers showing (and guaranteeing) the chain that they care for their employees. Together with Porini and Isinya we want to tell that to consumers. So they can press their florist to sell roses, that are OK in all perspectives. To make sure the production of these roses is not associated with exploitation, sexual intimidation or more of that kind.
It’s impossible to reach the consumer overnight. So we help our growers with a marketing plan. We again are helped by De Ruiter Innovations.
It will be step by step. First showing the chain, for what Fair Trade roses stands for. Then approaching consumers. We want Fair Trade roses available in the premium segment. Because we see a market and because that’s our style of entrepreneurship.”
“Global Flower Service BV is looking for deals, that can show the added value of Fair Trade in this segment. For us Fair Trade has hardly any consequences since we never become the owner of the flowers. But we will give extra marketing attention to these roses. It is only a fortnight since the certificate has been made visible in the auction clock so there are only a few reactions so far. But we already spoke to people that want to know what Fair Trade stands for. That, of course, is very encouraging.”
For more information:
De Ruiter Global Flower Service
Royal Flora Holland Aalsmeer
1424 LG De Kwakel