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October 24, 2009

Kenyan exporters look for new flower markets

by John Oyuke

Kenyan horticultural exporters are eyeing the Middle East in a bid to diversify from the traditional European market hit hard by global financial crisis. The traders have already sought help in finding new markets in places like the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

"Some of our own customers are already in talks with outlets like Spinneys among others," an official of SkyCargo, the Emirates Airlines airfreight disclosed. The supermarket retailer in the Middle East is involved in retail and marketing of consumer goods, most notably in the food sector, and its activities are spread throughout the seven emirates. This is why it has not been affected by the harsh global economic conditions.

The Gulf Council comprises the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which signed a unified economic agreement in 1981.

The foray by exporters into new waters comes at a time when Emirates Group, the aviation and travel services provider in the Middle East is seeking to increase presence in the local horticulture export to fast track recovery in its cargo business. A team from the Dubai-based group was recently in Nairobi. It held meetings with growers, fresh produce exporters and freight operators to emphasise the group’s ability to provide them efficient and cost-effective global connections.

Ram Menen, the Emirates’ divisional senior Vice President Cargo said Emirates SkyCargo is looking at ways it can work with the industry to access new markets. He said the airline wants to fit in the supply chain of the fastest growing industry within the agricultural sector by helping exporters find new market opportunities.

"Emirates is committed to Kenya, we are serious about the market. We have excellent links in Dubai to a network of 100 cities around the globe," Menen observed. He said several horticulture producers and exporters are ready to work with the airline.

Flower volumes this season have been adversely affected by lack of rain and declining margins from Kenya’s EU market. Last year, Emirates carried about 25,000 tonnes of exports and brought about 7,000 tonnes of imports including telecom equipments and automotive spare parts into the country. About 18,664 tonnes of exports were transported between October, last year and September this year, which represented a 25 per cent drop.

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