Entering the European market as a small or medium-sized flower grower can be a challenge. However also for a buyer, importing from these farms entails risks. In order to support these smaller businesses that want to tap the European market and buyers that want to import from these companies, the German-based Import Promotion Desk (IPD) was established. For over 10 years now, they are fulfilling a hinge function between small and medium-sized enterprises in selected emerging markets and developing countries on the one hand and European importers on the other hand. They focus on specific product groups and added cut flowers three years ago. Over the last year, they have expanded its commitment as it included Kenya as its 16th partner country in its program this summer. It is the third country for cut flowers they included, in addition to Ecuador and Colombia.
At the IFTF that took place earlier this month, they presented a large variety of cut flowers from Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. Roses, baby's breath, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, and rarities such as heliconia’s, proteas, and other unusual cut green varieties were all on display.
The IPD team at the EverBloom booth during the IFTF in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands, which took place earlier this month. EverBloom is one of the Ecuadorian farms working with IPD.
Advantages for growers
For growers, IPD offers the opportunity to tap the European market. "On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), IPD assist companies in their partner countries in entering the European market. BMZ takes into account the great importance of the cut flower sector for economic development in these countries", says IPD expert Dr. Andreas Gemaehlich. “So, when talking about flowers, in Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya, there are many small and medium-sized producers with exceptionally high product quality. IPD cooperates with these small farms and introduces them to the EU market. For this purpose, IPD has carefully prepared the companies for the requirements of the European market, especially in Germany. The small producers are also well positioned in terms of logistics and shipping so that they can reliably meet the seasonal demand on the EU market."
Advantages for European importers
On the other hand, IPD arranges contact with local producers for European importers within the framework of trade fairs, virtual B2B events, and in individual discussions. In addition, IPD organizes procurement trips to the IPD partner countries for importers so that buyers can get a first-hand impression of product quality and production conditions directly on-site. "IPD presents to the importers only producers who have been checked and evaluated according to defined criteria. This qualitative pre-selection saves traders time and costs and can reduce the risks when looking for new business partners. The services provided by IPD are free of charge for European importers."
At the beginning of October, for example, four buyers from Germany and the Netherlands traveled to Colombia at the invitation of IPD and in five days, they visited twelve flower farms around Bogota and in Antioquia. The farms showed the large variety of flowers that Colombia has to offer, such as chrysanthemums, gypsophila, hydrangeas, carnations, Craspedia, aster, alstroemeria, etc. In addition, the European buyers got to know the special quality management of small and medium-sized enterprises. "Getting to know the story behind the product and the company is very valuable for my daily business", Robin Weisheit from Weisheit Blumengrosshandel said. And this ambitious travel program organized by IPD together with the export promotion organization ProColombia has paid off: the first orders of e.g. chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, craspedia and gypsophila were placed directly in Colombia and soon after were shipped to Europe.
Increase in assortment with the addition of Kenya's flowers
Kenya is the country that recently has been welcomed as a new partner country of IPD. The first 'Fact Finding Mission for cut flowers' was very successful with roses alstroemerias and a large variety of summer flowers to be exported. "The Kenyan offering complements IPD's existing supply of Ecuador and Colombia with additional varieties, like hypericum, kangaroo paws in addition to roses and alstroemerias."
From Ecuador, IPD supports rose growers, but also producers of carnations and callas. "In addition, one farm has specialized in the cultivation of proteas, which are otherwise mainly grown in South Africa.”
Colombia is still less known in Europe as a country of origin for cut flowers, he continues. "But here, too, the diverse range of chrysanthemums, baby's breath, and hydrangeas and the good quality is particularly convincing. All three IPD partner countries offer excellent climatic conditions for flower cultivation: a constant warm climate and many hours of sunshine not only ensure strong and long stems, but also large flower heads with intense colors."