‘Logistics are firmly in place for Valentine’s Day roses from Kenya’

There are still many excellent large-headed roses grown in Kenya, but they tend not to come to the market quite as competitively as they do from Colombia.

“The logistics for Valentine’s Day deliveries are firmly in place,” says Martin Hudson, co-founder and director of UK-based Flamingo Group International.

Martin Hudson notes that, as Flamingo has been growing flowers in Kenya since the 1980s, the group is accustomed to planning well in advance for February 14 to accommodate the extra peak in demand.

Tried and tested

“What we’ve got has been tried and tested, so now we’re good,” says Hudson, who notes that, happily, growing conditions for the roses have been pretty normal this season.

As the roses have a short supply chain that sees them flown directly from Kenya to the UK, they are expected to be as fresh and long-lasting as ever.

Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, has, over the decades, become a strong cargo-plane hub, says Hudson. He explains that Kenya is a good place to operate in Africa thanks to its busy horticulture and tea sectors and its tourism industry. “This means that it has passenger aircrafts flying in every day to and from London (UK) and Europe. So, as an origin from which to freight product, it’s helped by the combination of cargo carriers and passenger aircraft that will carry cargo.”

Sea freight, Colombian roses and rose colours

More robust varieties of roses and other cut-flower types had recently enabled Flamingo to begin successfully transporting its products by sea freight out of Kenya – something that hadn’t been possible in the past. However, this new development has, says Hudson, been temporarily disrupted by the devastating crises in the Middle East and the Red Sea.

“Whilst this situation is adding additional costs and delays in the supply chain, it will not affect this year’s Valentine’s Day peak – for which everything is firmly in place.”

Thanks to their larger heads, Colombia has the market for premium roses for Valentine’s Day. However, there are still many large-headed roses grown in Kenya, “but they tend not to come to the market quite as competitively as they do from Colombia,” notes Hudson.

That said, “Kenya is still the biggest part of our Valentine peak, but it’s the intermediate varieties that we are typically producing. These varieties have a good-sized head, but they’re probably not quite as large as the heads on the Columbian roses,” explains Hudson.

He adds: “Valentine’s Day is still dominated by red roses, although we do sell a lot of softer-coloured roses because we find there’s a demand from people who perhaps want to be a bit more subtle about the message they’re conveying!”

“We sell a lot of peach-coloured roses, and orange is very popular. But we cover every colour really, including pastels.”

This article was first published in the February 2024 issue of FloraCulture International.

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