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Ivan Freeman, Uhuru Flowers:

Kenya: "Oversupply makes extra flowers difficult to sell"

The beginning of November is always a bit slow for the rose market. This year the market is tough due to oversupply of Kenyan roses, says Ivan Freeman of Kenyan rose farm Uhuru Flowers. Many farms have high production. Right now Uhuru Flowers has 50 to 60 percent more production than normal over the last couple of weeks. “Due to the high volumes coming from Kenya, extra flowers are difficult to sell.”

Ivan Freeman in the greenhouse

Low prices at the auction
Uhuru Flowers is situated in Timau, at an altitude of 2,600 m above sea level and grows roses in 18 ha of greenhouses. They supply the market directly. “We have a lot of standing orders, so our regular sales are the same. We would like to sell the extra flowers we have, but people can buy other flowers more cheaply via the auction and from other suppliers where the prices are low at the moment.”

Amerik De Best, auctioneer at FloraHolland Rijnsburg confirms the low prices at the auction. "Due to the high volumes, the prices are low. The autumn colors, like orange and dark orange are doing well, but the pinks are struggling heavily and the red and white are having difficulties as well." Unfortunately, the Day of the Dead on November 1 was not as good as it used to be either. "Not many of the younger generation seem to buy flowers to lay on the graves anymore."

But a higher production and low prices are quite usual during this time of the year. "Growers are preparing their crop for Christmas, Valentine's Day and Women's Day in order to have enough roses. In turn, the production is already higher during this time."

Good quality
Another reason for the overproduction is that the weather in Kenya has been quite hot after the cooler period in June/July. “Suddenly the flowers wake up and start to produce. We did crop maintenance and the crop comes back strong." However, Ivan thinks this year’s situation is similar to last year. “The weather is the same. Rain is coming, creating good humidity and cooler temperatures for production. Therefore, the quality of the flowers is very good.” De Best also sees good quality flowers on the auction. 

Stabilizing market in the coming weeks
As the rain comes, Ivan expects the production will return to a normal level and the market will stabilize. “We always have to discard a certain amount of roses, but so far we have managed to move most of our extra production. Of course we want to sell more, but we are happy where we are now.”

At the auction, De Best already noticed a slight decrease in supply. "The high production will decrease and will increase again in the run-up to Christmas, around the beginning of December. Then the demand will increase as well, particularly for the reds and whites."