Kenya’s 11th International Flower Trade Expo sets the stage for floral excellence

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Dick Van Raamsdonk, General Director, HPP Exhibitions, Clement Tulezi, CEO, Kenya Flower Council and Christine Chesaro, Director, Horticultural Crop Directorate during the media briefing on the status of the Kenyan flower industry. Photo Credit: Koigi

By Murimi Gitari, May 7, 2024, Kenya is once again poised to host the global flower trade community in Nairobi from June 4th to 6th, 2024.

The 11th International Flower Trade Exhibition (IFTEX) stands as a testament to the country’s growing dominance in the sector.

IFTEX organizer Dick Raamsdonk, while speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi, acknowledges the industry’s challenges but celebrates Kenya’s resilience with the sector consistently producing an extensive array of new flower varieties, captivating buyers who return to Nairobi annually for the latest releases.

“This kind of development has kept buyers returning to Nairobi every year for the past 10 years to meet producers in search of these latest releases. The flower industry is like fashion. Consumers are always looking for something new- colours, shapes, names, stem lengths and more”, he said.

More than 75 buyers from across the globe are expected to attend the expo with 184 exhibitions taking place compared to 2023 expo that had 154 exhibition stands.  Out of the 184 stands, 90 of them will be Growers representing nearly 90 per cent of all hectares dedicated to cut flower cultivation in Kenya.

Owing to Kenya’s advanced flower production and logistics value chain, geographical position astride the Equator, good tropical weather, different altitudes and availability of labour, among other factors, the country produces the highest range of quality mixes of flowers throughout the year making the nation a key supplier of flowers globally, Van Raamsdonk said in Nairobi.

This year’s expo, will be the eleventh since the show opened its doors in 2012, and comes at a time Kenya is gaining traction, not just as producer but a flower logistics hub with large distribution chains establishing bouquet-making hubs under a concept called “packed at source’’, taking root here.  This essentially means value-addition is now expanding in the country creating more jobs and transferring technology. “This is an indication Kenya will, in future, be the major flower business hub”, said Dick Raamsdonk.

Kenya’s Flower Council Chief Executive Officer, Clement Tulezi, says the flower exhibition offers the industry a platform to showcase latest innovations that have placed Kenya in a vantage position.

“Innovations and sustainability are the factors keeping our flowers ahead, and the interest in IFTEX from all corners of the world is an indicator of better times for Kenya”, he said.

IFTEX, among other major trade shows organized by HPP of Netherlands is among the top three other exhibitions held in Holland and Ecuador.  Kenya, being the largest source of all flowers sold in Europe is an important source of the multi-billion dollar produce. The country supplies 40 per cent of the European flowers with other statistics indicating, for every 10 stems in a bouquet, four are from Kenya.

As a buyer’s show, IFTEX attracts a pool of buyers keen to meet growers at the country of origin to cement sentimental relationships. Flowers are an emotional business at all levels. From workers in the farms all the way to the vases, flowers evoke emotions. When buyers see many flowers on display under one roof, it gives them wider choices for their consumers, keeping the industry moving, added Raamsdonk.

With breeders releasing new varieties, IFTEX 2024, has attracted buyers from more than 75 countries from Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, US and South and Central America.

Responding to evolving travel preferences, IFTEX has shifted its schedule from Wednesday to Friday, to now commence on Tuesday and conclude on Thursday. This adjustment reflects extensive research into the changing habits of the international trade show attendees, who increasingly prefer returning home before the weekend, exploring flower farms post-show as well as go sight-seeing Kenya’s great tourist attractions among these the Nairobi National Park.

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