De Ruiter East Africa (DREA) played host to rose growers from across Kenya who converged at the Naivasha showhouse for the breeders inaugural 2021 open days. The event held on week 8 February came at a time when growers across Kenya were embracing an unprecedentedly remarkable performance over the last half of 2020 and into Q1 of 2021. Due to Covid-19, the Open Days were spread over the whole week, and inclusive of some grower selection visits 2 weeks earlier, adhering to the government regulations & safety measures.
Despite the prevailing COVID situation and its overreaching effect on trade, most sections of the Kenyan floriculture sector have emerged relatively unscathed. What makes this news more welcoming is the fact that at the height of the pandemic, export numbers stood at an average low of 30%. Reports now indicate a notable recovery with the industry projected to realize its full robustness by mid this year.
According to DREA, there has been an interesting shift in product selection at the start of the year after 10 months of successful sales compared to the period ending 2019. They have also noted that more growers are more willing to take a risk with newer variety prospects than before. Confidence in the industry’s immediate future is restored for the moment.
Lucrative Valentine’s Day Sales
According to DREA’s MD, Rob Letcher, most rose growers and especially in Kenya were very happy with their 2021 Valentine’s sales.
“Due to a slightly lower supply and an apparent increase in the demand for roses during the Valentine’s Day period and the days preceding, prices shot up significantly especially at the Dutch auctions,” says Rob. These prices continued to rise further subsequently for the continued high demand for International Woman’s Day and UK Mother’s Day sales deliveries from late February 2021.
“The lockdowns in Europe, good weather in Kenya and an unfortunate lapse in production from other top producers such as Ethiopia also served as a catalyst for this apparent increase in demand.” He adds.
De Ruiter Retail Mix
Many growers were interested in De Ruiter’s retail mix, i.e. varieties which are well accepted in the market & perform well in greenhouses, for example, Furiosa®, Tropical Amazone®, Sonrisa®, Almanza®, Zanta® etc. Newer options like Trivia®, Pink Ice® and Lagreta® show promise. On the other hand, Pomarosa®, Born Free® and Opala® were popular for the wholesale market.
The breeder forecasts good market performance of their Big Five Red’s, consisting of Ever Red®, Rhodos®, Furiosa®, Born Free® and the newest addition to the list, Flanna®. While at the same time laying emphasis on the development of the new Big Five Colour collections – Yellow, Orange, White and Pink.
VIDEO | OPEN DAY AT DE RUITER EAST AFRICA
What growers had to say
Flowerweb spoke exclusively to some of the growers present at the open days who shared with us their 2020 experiences, Valentine’s Day numbers and how they pictured the coming days.
Andrew Wambua, the GM of Mzurrie’s Molo River Roses shares Rob’s sentiments saying they realized better numbers over the better part of 2020 and 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. According to Andrew, the year started on a low following the advent of COVID where their sales plummeted to 10% and they had to embark on a Business Continuity Plan. Things started looking up as they entered the 3rd quarter. This year’s Valentine’s Day turned out to be an excellent pay-day for the farm, thanks to a well-calculated decision not to remove their crop despite being in a BCP situation after the disruption by the pandemic. Almost 100% of their sales were to direct customers.
Equator Flowers GM, Nehemiah Kagongo, reiterated how good Valentine’s Day presales saw them win big during the biggest ‘flower holiday’ of the year. The lockdowns in Europe preempted early orders; and we sold almost 80% - 90% directly of our roses to the direct markets.
He says that when COVID hit, they were a worried lot especially with the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
“It was a challenging period but at SIAN roses we chose not to overreact,” says Nehemiah. “Staying steadfast enabled us to recover our production numbers in good time.”
Some of the De Ruiter varieties on display