Kenyan growers can’t get their flowers out of the country

It’s all hands on deck in Kenya. Growers can’t get their flowers out of the country. There’s a huge shortfall of airfreight capacity for Kenyan fresh produce and the air-cargo rates are exorbitant. South American growers are struggling with the same problems.

Of the 45 to 50 cargo planes that normally fly Kenyan flowers across the world, no more than twelve or so are still operating. Moreover, the passenger planes that normally transport some flowers in the belly, are all grounded due to the coronavirus. As a result, there’s an enormous shortage of airfreight capacity in Kenya. Which, in turn, has led to a huge cost increase for a kilogram of airfreight.

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Backlog China

It all started on the 13th of March. “Clock prices at Royal FloraHolland fell dramatically, lots of flowers were destroyed”, recalls Marcel Orie, Business Development Airfreight Perishables manager at Kuehne + Nagel. “The following Monday, 16 March, was as dramatic. Many Kenyan growers – especially the ones selling to wholesalers – had stopped sending roses. Only the retail orders were still coming in.

Two-thirds of the entire Kenyan air-cargo volume consists of flowers, and that segment came almost to a complete halt, according to Orie. The airlines had to look for other products to transport, which they found in the form of medical equipment, among other things. Some freighters were moved to China. The many weeks of lockdown in this country had led to a backlog of airfreight there.

Click here to read the full article in Floribusiness digtital magazine.

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