Saudi Arabia: Challenging market that demands 'open' flowers

"The retail shops in Saudi Arabia like very open flowers", explains Sundar Nair of the Flower Hub, a wholesale distributor in Saudi Arabia. "The rose is the highest selling flower which we mainly source from Ethiopian and Kenyan farms. Quality, remaining quality, freight costs and the fact that the majority of these farms are used to sellling flowers in a tight cut stage makes Saudi Arabia a challenging market to operate in." For this reason Flower Hub is continuously looking for farms that can deliver high quality roses in a very open cut stage.

Market for open cut stage
The retail shops in Saudi Arabia do not keep large stocks and prefer to buy fresh stock daily basis. "For this reason, they, and our clients, in turn, opt for flowers that are very open. These flowers are being sold the same day or maximum the next day. The open cut stage of the flower is about 40 percent open in especially roses," says Nair.

These are the kinds of flowers the Flower Hub is looking for

Rose popular
The rose is a popular flower and also for Flower Hub the highest selling, about 60 to 65 percent of the total volume. "On a weekly basis, we source around 180,000 rose stems. The red rose is the most demanded, and therefore takes the largest part of our rose volume; 40 percent. The second highest demanded color for the roses is white (30 percent), then light pink (10%), followed by dark pink (10%), purple (5%), yellow (3 %) and bi-color (2%). The second highest selling flower is the chrysanthemum, which is almost 20 percent of our total volume."

Challenging market
According to Nair, supplying flowers to Saudi Arabia is challenging. "It is a market that prefers very open flowers, but it is difficult to supply cut roses in this stage," says Nair. The roses are currently being bought from Kenyan and Ethiopian farms. "In general, the roses from Kenya have better quality compared to the Ethiopian roses, but the transportation costs are very high. There are no direct flights from Nairobi to Saudi Arabia, but there are from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia. Therefore the freight costs are much cheaper from Ethiopia." On top of that, according to Nair, for many farms their main market is Europe. In contrast to Saudi Arabia, this market prefers very tight cut stage flowers. For the farms, it is challenging to supply both markets, as the cut stage required is very open. "Some farms leave production areas specifically for us as per the program fixed to obtain the right cut stage."

Sourcing from more farms
The number of high-quality roses, with very open flowers -and other flowers- that are needed by Flower Hub is high. "Our market is the same throughout the year, except for the Holy Month of Ramadan, then the sales go down by 60 percent." For this reason, they are continuously looking for farms that are able to meet their requirements and supply them with high quality open staged flowers.

For more information
Flower Hub
Sundar Nair

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