KENYA – Kenya’s flower industry, often hailed as “the flower garden of Europe,” has witnessed a surge in exports ahead of Valentine’s Day, with Swissport International leading the way in orchestrating a successful movement of 9,000 tons of fresh roses.

The Flower Corridor, connecting Nairobi to key European markets, including Liege, Brussels, and Amsterdam, played a pivotal role in this accomplishment.

Swissport attributes the success of its Flower Corridor to advanced logistics within Kenya’s interior. The company emphasizes the positive impact on Kenyan growers, citing extended shelf life and reduced waste compared to flowers from less sustainable greenhouses in Europe.

Edwin Musungu, Head of Cargo Services at Swissport Nairobi, notes, “Every year, Swissport successfully handles millions of fresh-cut flowers between January and February, aligning with peak demand during the Valentine’s Day season.”

Globally, Kenya exports 38% of flowers imported by the European Union, making it a significant contributor to the international flower market.

However, this year saw a slight decrease in handled flowers, attributed to aircraft capacity constraints. Carriers prioritized the lucrative Chinese market, coinciding with the Lunar New Year in 2024.

Dirk Goovarts, CEO of Swissport for the Central Eastern, Middle East, and Africa region, highlights the importance of countering Kenya’s heat during transportation.

The Flower Corridor incorporates a cold chain innovation that ensures the integrity of fragile flowers while connecting Nairobi to key international locations.

Goovarts explains, “Since the Flower Corridor was launched, Swissport has been working on perfecting the cold chain solution to provide high-quality services that protect the integrity of fragile flowers and maximize returns for customers.”

He expresses enthusiasm about the future of air cargo handling in Kenya and emphasizes Swissport’s commitment to collaborating with local cargo communities to enhance solutions continually.

In a parallel success story, Avianca Cargo, a prominent player in the air cargo industry, reported transporting nearly 18,000 tons of flowers from Colombia and Ecuador to the United States during the Valentine’s Day season.

Doubling its regular capacity, Avianca Cargo operated around 300 flights, significantly contributing to the flower industry’s flourishing demand.

Despite challenges such as aircraft capacity constraints and shifting market priorities, Kenya’s flower exports continue to thrive, showcasing the resilience and innovation within the industry.

As Swissport and Avianca Cargo celebrate their successful logistical feats during the season of love, the flower industry remains a vital contributor to Kenya’s economy and a key player in the global floral market.

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