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What makes Kenyan roses unique?

The exhibit floor of Floriexpo, which will take place from May 31 till June 2 in Fort Lauderdale (FL), showcases anything a floral category buyer might need for their department from locations across the world. Those locations span multiple continents, with the Kenya Pavilion set to showcase some of the best products from Africa.

Global Standards Resource Certification is supporting the Kenya Pavilion at Floriexpo this year, which will allow attendees to see and experience these products. We spoke with Robert Chiuri from Global Standards Resource Certification, which is organizing the Kenya Pavilion, to get a sense of the reason their products stand out, how shipping costs have changed post-COVID, and much more.

What are some of the things that people need to know about the horticultural products of Kenya?
Robert Chiuri: Importing more horticultural products such as flowers, herbs, ad vegetables from Kenya can provide significant benefits for clients across the United States. Those benefits include but are not limited to, increased access to diverse, high-quality products, cost savings, and sustainability. All of those efforts are also directly connected to promoting job creation and economic development.

What can you tell us about your rose exports and how they’re distinct or different from roses that come from other regions? Kenyan roses are distinct from those grown in other countries, which has resulted in a reputation for high quality, large blooms, and long vase/shelf-life. There are several reasons for this distinction.

Much of this is due to location, as Kenya’s equatorial climate, with consistently warm temperatures and high altitude, creates the perfect growing conditions for roses. This results in strong, healthy plants with large blooms and long stems. Additionally, Kenya’s volcanic soil is rich in nutrients and minerals, which can help roses grow to their full potential. The soil pH is also ideal for rose production, allowing for good nutrient uptake and water retention.

Kenya also has a well-established horticulture industry, with a lot of expertise and experience in rose production. This includes knowledge about optimal growing conditions, disease and pest management, and post-harvest handling and storage. That knowledge extends to the different tools and techniques that have been adopted across the country, as many Kenyan rose farms use advanced technology, such as greenhouses, drip irrigation systems, and computer-controlled climate and irrigation systems. This can help to optimize growing conditions and increase yields.

Lastly, the variety of flowers is distinct, as Kenya grows a wide variety of roses, including many unique and exotic varieties. This variety, along with the high quality of the roses, has made Kenyan roses very popular in international markets.

How have freight rates and shipping costs changed or come down for products coming out of Kenya since the onset of the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global shipping and freight rates, including those for products coming out of Kenya. In general, shipping costs have increased due to a combination of factors, including reduced capacity, disruptions in the supply chain, and increased demand for shipping services.

Specifically, the shipping costs for products coming out of Kenya varied depending on the mode of transportation and the destination country. For example, air freight rates have increased significantly due to a reduction in passenger flights, which also carry cargo in their belly holds. This resulted in a shortage of cargo space and higher prices for air freight services.

The prices have since started coming down with the increased number of passenger flights, which mainly offer connections via Heathrow or Switzerland, with belly cargo as well as a better distribution of flights across all the networks which previously were directed to China for supplies used for the pandemic as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Is there anything especially different about your products in 2023 that has notably changed since last year? Is that something you’ll be discussing with attendees at Floriexpo?
There have been significant changes over the last few years, especially in Roses Varieties. Farms are specifically moving to longer vase life roses, better colors, and bigger head sizes, especially in the intermediates ranges, which is key in creating a niche in the market.

That will certainly be a topic of discussion at the event, but we’ll also be promoting intermediate roses from Kenya into the US and Canadian markets. The Kenyan intermediate roses, as well as spray roses, offer value for the money to the clients and also an extensive range to choose from in terms of colors, length, and varieties.

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