60 Years of NL-Kenya bilateral relations: going back in time with Royal FloraHolland
In the spirit of #60yearsofNLKE, we are going back in time to explore the history of our strong ties. Below is the interview with Royal FloraHolland, an international cooperative and marketplace for floriculture based in the Netherlands that operates in Kenya.
How long has Royal FloraHolland been present in Kenya?
Royal FloraHolland Kenya was incorporated in 2006 as FH Services Kenya Ltd. We have been present in Kenya for 18 years.
Can you tell a bit about the history of the company?
In 2006, our office had 6 staff who offered services to growers by marketing flowers, providing freight solutions, processing grower invoices, and registering new members. Only a small number of roses were exported from Kenya to the Royal FloraHolland auction. As an auction, we mostly had roses from the Netherlands.
Today, we have over 100 member growers and 15 suppliers producing flowers across 3,401 hectares in various regions in Kenya, sending their flowers to the auction in the Netherlands and various destinations across the world.
Our office has grown to 28 staff who offer services such as our Global Sourcing and post-harvest services. We also offer financial services through our B2B platform Floriday.
What have been the most notable changes of working in Kenya over the past decades?
Kenya is now the key economic and commercial hub of East Africa. In recent years, it has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Over the past decades there have been enormous strides made in the field of digitalization and e-commerce.
For our floriculture sector, there has been continuous improvement in cool chain management for flowers through improved road infrastructure and facilities such as cold rooms at the airport. This has enabled our growers to deliver quality products to customers across the globe. Furthermore, sea freight solutions are also now available to our growers.
Can you describe what is special about working in Kenya?
Kenya is the number one export country for flowers to the Netherlands. In 2022, Kenya exported € 390 million worth of flowers to Royal FloraHolland through our members and suppliers.
Farms in Kenya are often located at altitudes from 1,400 to 2,700 meters. At these altitudes, roses have thicker buds, with more exclusive varieties. Kenya is consistent and known globally for delivering an increasingly higher quality product.
Kenya has a diversified assortment of flowers, suitable for different destination markets and consumer preferences. For example, roses grown in different altitudes in the county appeal to different consumer markets. Italy, for instance, often requires long stems with large buds while the United Kingdom is suitable for flowers tailored to the retail segment (supermarkets). Southern Europe, on the other hand, has a lot more specialty stores e.g. the cash & carry businesses where florists come to buy their flowers. Growers in Kenya can meet the demands of these different markets.
Although the rose is by far the most popular product, more than 110 varieties of flowers are farmed in Kenya and exported to over 60 destinations globally, making it Africa’s flower hub.
What do you wish to see in the coming 60 years for NL-Kenya relations?
The Netherlands and Kenya enjoy strong trade relations with agriculture, and specifically a vibrant horticulture sector, as a key driver. As of October 2022, the Netherlands exported €33M and imported €47M from Kenya, resulting in a positive trade balance of €14M between Kenya and the Netherlands.
We would like to see these partnerships grow even stronger, for example by improving access to data. For us, as a cooperative based in the Netherlands, export data is imperative as it allows us to make informed strategic decisions on behalf of our members not only in Kenya but globally.
For more information about this sector or any other agricultural questions feel free to contact us via NAI-LNV@minbuza.nl. For the latest updates on activities, new articles and more follow us on twitter on @NLAgiKenya and subscribe to our newsletter by sending us an email. In case of any non-agriculture questions for the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi see, this website for contact information.