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Erlend van Deurs Lindberg, Svein Nesse:

Norway: An interesting market filled with East African roses

Norway is a flower loving country and has one of the highest per capita total flower consumption in Europe. Over the years this market has undergone changes and currently the majority of the roses are being imported from Ethiopia, Kenya and Holland. We have had a chat with Norwegian flower importer Erlend van Deurs Lindberg of Svein Nesse who gave us an insight into this interesting market.

Erlend van Deurs Lindberg.

Rose popular
The rose is the most popular flower that is being consumed in Norway, followed by the tulip. Svein Nesse was one of the first Norwegian companies that started importing roses from Kenya. "We are currently importing roses directly from Kenyan rose growers." Since the early 80's, at the time Svein Nesse was established, the demand for roses has increased every year and, according to Lindberg, has now reached a stable position. "Everyone can buy roses of a reasonable quality everywhere now."

Import from Ethiopia, Kenya and Holland
The fact that roses are available everywhere is mainly because the imports of flowers increased over the years. Norway used to be supplied with flowers by their own rose growers. And in order to protect these growers from imported flowers (not only dutch flowers), the government set import taxes on the flowers. "From 1st of November till the end of March there are no taxes on Dutch roses", explains Lindberg. However, there are no import taxes on the flowers from East African countries. So, when these countries entered the market, many Norwegian rose growers were put out of business. In an article published in 2008, consultant Sidsel Bøckman of Norsk Gartnerforbund points out that the acreage used for rose production in Norway decreased from 14,5 ha in the period 2005/06 to 9,6 ha in 2008. At that time there were still 30 growers left in Norway. According to Lindberg, over the last few years, the acreage decreased even further and there is just about 0.3 ha of rose cultivation left. So, currently the majority of the flowers come from Ethiopia, Kenya and Holland. "But due to the import taxes, the Dutch roses are often only imported in these tax free months mentioned earlier."

High flower consumption
Norway is one of the highest flower consuming countries in Europe; it has the highest per capita total consumption of flowers. "Norwegians are used to buying roses and other flowers for their own consumption. Most people buy flowers every other week. And on top of that, just like many other countries, the demand for roses increases for special holidays like Valentine's Day, Father’s Day, Mother's Day and national holidays", says Lindeberg. Annually, Svein Nesse imports 20 million roses and 15 percent of this volume is especially used for these kind of holidays.

Even though Norway has the same holidays as many other countries, these are being celebrated on different dates, which sometimes affects the consumption of flowers. Mother's Day and Valentine's Day for example succeed each other quickly. Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in February and Valentine's Day on February 14. "Sometimes these days are celebrated on the same day. This is a pity as it will not double our sales", says Lindberg. "Besides that, it is difficult to get enough flowers for our National Constitution Day as this day, May 17, is celebrated during a time of the year where many flowers are going to other European countries for Mother's Day."

Good summer season
Fortunately, Svein Nesse has had a good summer season. "The majority of the roses sold in Norway are imported from Kenya or Ethiopia", says Lindberg. Last summer, many farms had a tough season as they had to deal with cold weather and heavy rains and therefore the occurrence of diseases like botrytis. "We have heard that the growers of many importers had some difficulties with delivering the flowers as they had to cut down their production due to these diseases. We were lucky that our main supplier in Kenya, Mt. Elgon Orchards, was not that affected by these severe weather conditions. This is one of the reasons our overall sales this summer have increased a few percent'' , he said.

For more information
Svein Nesse
Erlend van Deurs Lindberg
Email: [email protected]