"We did expect to receive international requests, but not this many", says Frans Ederveen of Flora Delight. Together with Marco van Sandijk these two Dutchmen started to trial hydrangeas at their farm in 2011 with the aim of growing and supplying them year round. After years of trialing, they put their first Kenyan grown hydrangeas on the market in 2013 and since then a lot has happened. Now, they are able to supply year round and they just finished their final greenhouse which completely shifts their production from tunnels to houses.
Frans Ederveen at the IFTEX 2019 holding the golden award they won at the IFTEX's Grower Quality Competition in the category Best Grower Assorted Cut Flowers.
Year round production
Ederveen and his business partner Sandijk established their business in Kenya in 2007. They mainly grew ranunculus and afterwards also several summer flowers. They quickly noticed a good opportunity to grow hydrangeas year round. "The 52 weeks of sunshine made us decide to start trialing the crop in 2011, after years of adjusting the crop to the Kenyan climate. And it confirmed their expectations. "As soon as we saw the results, we were certain that it could be cultivated year round as the 'cold period' hasn't had a negative influence on the crop."
So, in the years that followed, they continued adjusting the hydrangeas to the Kenyan conditions, expanding the cultivation acreage and so on.
Flora Delight's hydrangea crop in the greenhouse.
From tunnels to greenhouses
All hydrangeas used to grow in tunnels, but after growing their crop for years, they decided to establish greenhouses. Over the last two years, they gradually established greenhouses and gradually shifted their crop in this new environment. And Ederveen is pleased with the switch. "The humidity is much more stable and we can automate more processes, like screening, which will benefit the cultivation." Now they have 16 ha of greenhouses in production.
Inside the greenhouses, the crop is divided in different departments. it ensures us a constant supply and we can anticipate on important holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day in the UK and Russian Women's Day.
Ederveen always saw the potential in the hydrangea market. "Annually a lot of hydrangea stems are being produced in the Netherlands and there is a high production in South America, which is mostly focused on the US market. However, compared to roses, the worldwide hydrangea production is still small. So, there is a large potential to expand in this market. And therefore, we thought that the year-round production and availability of this flower would offer a great opportunity", he told FloralDaily in an article in 2016.
And his prediction came true. "We did not expect to get so many requests when the season ended, the end of May." He receives increasingly more requests from countries within Europe as well as outside of Europe."
At the moment, Flora Delight has 6 varieties in their assortment. We constantly improve our range and we recently added 4 to 6 new colors. Their aim is to have a range of 12-14 colors. "This will be enough choice for our buyers to choose from."
They are currently one of the most modern companies in Kenya and in the future, they will continue working on their worldwide position. Also they will keep investing in the processes in the greenhouse, like improving the internal logistics by installing a sort of monorail and improving the vase life of the product within the chain. "Vase life of the hydrangea within the chain is a major problem nowadays and we are working hard to find a solution."