The current scenario which costs traders $4 per kg to ship flowers to the US via Schiphol or South Africa is set to significantly change once direct flights to the USA commence. This is an affirmation from the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) sighting the transit stopovers as the reason for high freight costs.
“It is going to be cheaper for us to export our flowers to the US once direct flights to America start, this will be a big boost to our growers who will see their earnings improve,” said chief executive officer Jane Ngigi.
“KFC is gathering market intelligence on the status of the American market, entry points and investment opportunities.”
Ms Ngige said the US market would raise competition for Kenyan flowers globally as currently nearly all the produce from the country is sold in Europe.
“Exports to the US implies we will have diversified our markets and we will no longer have to rely on Europe as our major buyer; this will make our produce competitive because of an alternative market,” she said.
Kenya’s and East Africa’s main transport hub Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was earlier this year granted Category One status by the US Federal Aviation Administration which will allow commencement of direct flights in the near future.
With the IFTEX show coming up early June, organiser Dick Van Ramsdonk (president of HPP Exhibitions) says that they will be expecting more American buyers this year following this development.
“Kenya’s flowers are a sensation in the US but until the categorisation, it has been costly and lengthy to ship the country’s flowers to the world’s biggest market of our flower after the EU,” said Mr Ramsdonk.
In 2016, Kenya’s Floriculture Industry earned over 600 million Euros, making up 70 per cent of earnings from horticultural exports.