Creating the ideal flowerbox

The Dutch embassy hosted a workshop focused on flower packaging. The workshop was initiated by the Holland Flower Alliance, a strategic and open alliance between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Royal FloraHolland. The alliance aims to improve flower logistics processes (between Kenya and the Netherlands). One of the focus points that the alliance has identified is the packaging of flowers. 

Current situation

The workshop revealed that the current quality of packaging of flowers in Kenya is not contributing to the quality of the supply chain. During the interactive morning session, it became clear that achievements can be made by improving packaging. The workshop was themed: ‘The ideal flower box’. The objective was to have an open discussion about the current situation, the challenges, and the ideal situation regarding flower boxes.

Participants agreed that the current quality standard of the boxes is lower than in e.g. South America, price vs. quality is not ideal, and that the different box sizes remain a challenge. Moreover, the trend is not standardization of boxes, but the opposite: as direct trade increases, customers demand higher quality boxes, resulting in further diversification of flower packaging. The industry and value chain are not yet geared towards this changing market. Another issue that was raised in association with box quality is that flowers bound for the flower auction in Aalsmeer, are generally not packed for more than 72 hours. Resulting in lower quality of the box, as they are only used for a relatively short period (compared to e.g. South America). Furthermore, the group discovered that there is not one common perception on ideal packaging in the industry.

So why does the industry want change and how can this be achieved

Once the quality of packaging improves there are clear benefits. Stakeholders (from airlines to growers) can reduce the loss of produce and optimize the use of space when transporting the flowers. This creates a more sustainable value chain. Moreover, a more unified packaging would enable more efficient handling of boxes. This will increase the quality of flowers in the market and thus improve the image of the products.

The stakeholders agreed that the benefits are clear, however a holistic approach is needed; it is not just the box that needs changing; it is also the use of new trucks, building of new stable road etc. Focus should lie on all processes between farm and shop. The question then is who is going to initiate these innovations, as the first mover likely will not reap the benefits. Hence, benefits should be shared along the chain in order to trigger each stakeholder’s contribution to innovation.

Way forward

By sharing experiences and insights, this workshop has created an integral awareness among all stakeholders that there is room for improvement regarding transport and flower boxes.

All stakeholders agreed it would be beneficial if the flower sector in Kenya would adopt a number of standard sizes, create more transparency and share knowledge throughout the flower supply chain. Only by working together as an industry can we improve the way flowers are transported from farm to vase.

For more information

Contact Holland Flower Alliance: Eline van den Berg project manager HFA

If you also would like to receive assistance from the Embassy co-hosting an event or you have other questions, feel free to send an email to