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Jorge Ortega, Matina Flowers:

"Prices still high in Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan"

"Currently, we are looking to increase our sales in the countries around Russia," says Jorge Ortega, Sales Manager at Matina Flowers, a 25.5 ha sized rose farm in Bogota, Colombia. According to him, the prices of roses in these countries are still high and their currencies have not been as hard hit as the rouble.

Jorge Ortega at the FlowersExpo 2015 in Moscow, Russia.

25% decrease in sales
"Over the last year, the demand for roses in the Russian market, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and all other Russian speaking countries declined, which resulted in a 25 percent drop in sales for Matina Flowers," says Ortega. According to him, the problem did not start with Russia and the devaluation of the rouble, but the war in Ukraine. "Ukraine was one of our main consumers of long, 90-100-120 cm, stem roses. So when the political problems started in Ukraine, around September 2014, the sales to the Russian market started to drop. The devaluation of the rouble only made it worse; the prices decreased by 25 percent," he explains.

Increasing sales in countries around Russia

Matina Flowers exports their roses all over the world. According to Ortega, all markets are demanding better prices. "The main reason is the fact the currencies around the world are falling. Only the US dollar has maintained a stable price," he says. For this reason, the farm is looking for markets where the prices of flowers are still high. "Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan are such markets. The level of flower prices in these markets is still high, compared to other countries and their currency has not being hit as hard as the rouble. Besides that, another advantage of these countries is that their preferences are similar to the Russian market." Therefore, Matina Flowers does not has to adjust their assortment drastically. "However, even though we are not forced to make major changes in our assortment, we are always updating our assortment with new varieties. In this way we stay competitive in the market."

Ecuador and Colombia biggest competitors
"We have two main competitors, Ecuador and Colombia. At the moment, Ecuador is our main competitor, they produce top quality roses and their prices are very low due to the Russian situation. In Colombia there are like 10 farms that are focused on the production of roses for the Russian market I mean top quality roses, so we are prepared for the competition in Colombia but what we were not prepared for are the aggressive prices that Ecuador is offering," says Ortega. In order to compete with Ecuador, Matina Flowers carefully picks their varieties, invests in plants, and, as Ortega says, sacrifices their productivity in order to get better quality. This means that they give the plants more space, food and time so they can grow bigger stems. "In the end it is a matter of what variety or color the final customer prefers. We need to be very assertive and pick the colors that are most in demand and the colors that we expect will be in demand for a couple of years. Therefore a good knowledge of the worldwide market is required," says Ortega.

Future plans
Matina Flowers currently grows 37 rose varieties and will add new varieties to their current assortment soon. This will bring them to a total of 40 varieties. To realize this, they are expanding their greenhouse with a couple of hectares to make more space for these new varieties. In order to choose and market these varieties, they are making a huge investment in marketing. "Every year, we are visiting many different countries to find new niches."

The roses of Matina Flowers will be on display at the Proflora 2015 in Bogota, Colombia. They can be visited at booth 1912.

For more information
Matina Flowers
Jorge Ortega
Email: [email protected]