Boost for Ethiopia’s flower industry as Japanese firm eyes fivefold rise in rose imports from Ethiopia

TOKYO, Japan: According to ENA/Further Africa, Tokyo-based Impack, the corporation behind horticultural supplier and flower importer Impack, PippoRose Bouquet Shop, and Peter Rabbit Flowers, has announced plans to increase cut flower imports from Ethiopia fivefold.

The news was made this week in Tokyo, when Ethiopia’s ambassador to Japan, Tefera Derbew, met with Impack Corporation Chairman Tomokazu Morishige and President Hekiro Morishige, respectively.

Impack started its business in 1936 as a manufacturer and supplier of horticultural products such as packaging, gardening tools, and flower sorting and bunching machines from the Netherlands (since 1987).

In horticultural supplies, the company takes pride in supplying a large portion of the Japanese market with an estimated 50 per cent market share in sleeves.

Impack didn’t begin importing flowers until 2015 when the company received financial support from JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organisation, which is part of Japan’s Ministry of Economy.

Since then, they have been promoting Ethiopian flower bouquets cleverly making us of their own state-of-the-art bouquet lines. However, market insiders judge that among all imported flowers into Japan, their market share is still modest.

Impack is also the company behind the flower brands Peter Rabbit Flower (2007).  Until recently, Peter Rabbit-themed flower stores were dotted across Japanese shopping malls, but the company closed all physical stores in 2019 to sell its copyrighted flower gifts –  including preserved flowers only –  100 per cent online. PippoRose bouquet shop is another Impack brand that exclusively markets online, selling bouquets including Ethiopian roses directly to consumers.

The news about Impack’s plan to ramp up its rose import from Ethiopia has been received with mixed feelings. It is safe to say that Japanese auctions keep an eagle eye on the corporation’s moves as it distributes imported roses bypassing Japan’s impressive network of flower auctions.

The Impack corporation currently imports two million rose flower stems from Ethiopia each year. Impack’s representatives told the ambassador that the corporation intends to more than fivefold the amount of its annual rose flower imports in the coming years and that Impack will put significant marketing muscle behind Ethiopian-grown roses to boost Japanese demand.

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