Christmas is around the corner, which means flower shipments for this holiday are in full swing. At Kenyan farms Isinya Roses and Porini Flowers, for example, 60 percent of their Christmas shipments have left the farm already to the auction and direct clients. Are they satisfied so far? "The prices are better than last year, but the weather is worse. This equals out the benefit of the higher prices as production is lower", says Ananth Kumar, Head of Marketing at these farms.
Isinya and Porini grow roses on a total acreage of 85 ha in Nairobi, Kenya. They are big in reds, and Ever Red and Rhodos are their two main varieties. They supply both the auction and direct.
This year, East Africa was hit by severe rains. Usually, in Kenya, the end of October to December is known as the "small" rainy season, but this year it is more severe. "For about a month now, it's been cloudy and rainy", says Kumar.
Due to the unusual weather, many industries are hit, including the flower industry. "Growers are dealing with high humidity that is affecting the flowers. Also, we see that production is about 15 percent lower than we expected. Particularly the sensitive varieties like whites and pinks are affected, the reds much less."
As supply is low, prices at the auction - to which Isinya and Porini supply 20 percent of their volumes - usually go up, and currently this is also the case for the reds. "Compared to last year, the prices are now about 10 percent higher. This all has to do with the lower-than-usual supply. The color prices, on the other hand, are very low."
Isinya and Porini mainly supply directly and for Christmas, the majority of their roses go to the UK. Currently, the prices at the auction for red roses are similar to the prices of direct sales - "about 40 cents for 50 cm stems."
It is expected that the prices will increase even further this week. "More rains are expected. In turn, supply will go down again."
All in all, the lower production and higher prices give about the same results as last year. So when Kumar is asked if he is satisfied, he says: "Luckily the reds were not affected that much, but losing product always gives an unpleasant feeling."