Over 5,000 flower growers, breeders and buyers are set to congregate in Nairobi next month for the annual International Flower Trade Expo, now in its sixth year.
The expo is timely for Kenya, coming at a time when the country is set to introduce direct flights to the US following the classification of Kenya’s premier airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Category A status. For the sixth year in a row, Kenya’s flowers are a sensation in the US but until the categorization, it has been costly and lengthy to ship the country’s flowers to the world’s biggest market after the EU.
“Owing to the availability of the flights, we expect more American buyers in Nairobi next month going by confirmed visits and increasing inquiries,” said HPP President Dick Van Ramsdonk. HPP organizes flower expos across the world including IFTEX.
Kenyan flower continues to attract more prospective buyers beyond the traditional EU markets. At the China Flower Trade Fair in Guangzhou and the World Floral Expo in Las Vegas (US) held early this year there was heightened interest by buyers in the Kenyan flowers due to its quality.
“In China, visitors came from all the corners of the vast continent some purposely looking for the Kenya pavilion where a remarkable display resulted in buyers expressing interest to attend the Kenya flower show (IFTEX) to see more varieties and colour. For this reason we expect more buyers from Asia, the country’s newest and promising market frontier for flowers,” Dick added.
Since IFTEX opened its doors here in 2012, there has been a steady pattern of target visitors. Buyers visit Kenya to see the flowers and book supplies. Growers have always put their best mix on show creating a sea of flowers not seen anywhere else under one roof. Despite being the youngest of global flower shows organized by HPP, IFTEX is now among the top five world’s most important industry events.
Although Kenya actively participates in our other international flower shows globally, IFTEX offers the largest number of growers sitting together showcasing the unique characteristics of flowers from the country’s various growing regions. Big heads, small heads, short stems, long stems as well as different varieties coming from the same country complete the picture of market diversity.
Kenya’s position astride the Equator and varying climatic conditions enables the country to grow flowers that compete with those from Ethiopia Ecuador and Colombia that are in the same horizon making the nations the top flower producing spots. Kenya has a mix of low and high lands enabling production of the same variety in different region giving different characteristics for the diverse markets. For instance, the same variety grown in Naivasha, Thika and Nanyuki, the prime growing regions in the country, gives three different shades of the same flower going into different markets, and this is unique to Kenya.
This year, the biggest representation at IFTEX will be the Kenyan flower growers, but producers from other nations will present their products. Growers from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa will be exhibiting giving IFTEX a regional fair as well as a show for Africa, staged in Kenya, the continent’s leading producer, and the world’s third largest.
IFTEX was launched in Nairobi in 2012 and has been held every year since. It has made history, not only as the fastest growing among industry exhibitions organized by HPP but has also the only event that has attracted growers from other continents to showcase their products in a non-consuming country.
The show has grown into a top Kenyan brand, strengthening the country’s position as a leader in global markets, while enhancing the image of Nairobi as the home from where 40 per cent of the flowers sold in Europe originate. IFTEX has come at the right time for the Kenya flower industry that is now in the process of market consolidation and retention by positioning its flowers as responsibly grown, and that picture can only be seen at a show of an international magnitude at home. Last year over 1,500 key qualified trade visitors from over 28 countries visited the show, a big number for buyers.
Currently, IFTEX is at par with other important flower exhibitions organized by HPP which include World Floral Expo (USA), Agriflor (Quito, Ecuador), and the International Floriculture Trade Fair (Vijfhuizen, Holland), all that are key activities in the flower industry calendar.
This year the show will be held on June 7-9 at the Oshwal Centre, Parklands, Nairobi.