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Peter Viljoen, Sunland Roses:

"Kenya: "Direct market enables us to pass on our story"

Increasingly more growers are going to supply the direct market. Sunland Roses, a Kenyan rose farm is also noticing the advantages of supplying the direct market. "When supplying the direct market, we get an insight in the needs of our consumers. Moreover, as we supply sustainably grown roses, the direct market enables us to engage with the consumer and pass on our story," says Peter Viljoen, owner of Sunland Roses. Currently, the rose farm is supplying 60% to the direct market and is aiming for a 30% auction and 70% direct market ratio.

Peter Viljoen at the FlowersExpo in Moscow, Russia.

Sustainable production
Sunland Roses is a medium sized farm of 20 hectares in size and is situated on an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level. The farm was established in 2000 and grows spray, big head and perfume roses. All these roses are being cultivated in an sustainable manner. "From scratch, we are focusing on limiting the environmental impact of our rose farm by using beneficial insects, special composting and fertilizing techniques." Besides that, this sustainable approach to growing has more advantages; it adds value to the rose. "Its a natural product, feeding it and managing it more naturally with natural fertilizers and spraying programs makes a big difference on quality and vase life of the rose. And in order to bring the same quality to the customer, we work with strict post harvest, like handling and cold chain, procedures," explains Viljoen.

The farm.

Bringing the story to the market
"We, as a niche rose grower, are putting a lot of effort in to growing as sustainably as possibly, and do our best to support our workers and the local community to move forward. So, it is not just a rose that the consumer is buying, there is much more behind it." According to Viljoen, this story behind the product is very important, but is too often not told to or known by the end consumer. However, the direct market offers the possibility to pass on this story. "Over the last few years, the option for direct marketing in the world has become much easier for everyone. New communication channels and logistic networks opened up opportunities for us to get more market feedback and engagement, but also for our target group, the smaller quality buyers, who could not reach us that easily in the past." Therefore, Sunland is moving more of their varieties and marketing into a direct relationship. The ratio is changing yearly from more auction orientated to quality direct market orientated. Currently, 60% of their production is being supplied to the direct market. In the future, they are aiming for a 30% auction and 70% direct market ratio. "Buying direct saves on cost and adds much more value to the product for everyone involved."

Head size of Athena (on the left) and Adelaide (on the right).

Keep on adding value
Besides increasing their volumes to the direct market, Sunland will keep adding value to their 20 ha sized land in the future. "To add value we focus on perfecting our existing unit in a more sustainable way to benefit the environment, management to detail and markets." According to Viljoen, uprooting old varieties and finding new varieties to grow is a continuous process. "We always have one or two ha that is not in production. It is used to uproot or change varieties. And when choosing a new variety, it is important that this variety will be in demand for more than six years as we break even two years after planting. So, also in this way the direct market can help us. Then, we are closer to the market and end consumer and we will get more insight in to their current needs and the needs for the long term. Therefore, it enables us to decide on which varieties to grow in the future."

The processes from post harvest to the minute the truck leaves Sunland Roses.

For more information:
Sunland Roses
Peter Viljoen
Email: [email protected]