K-NET Penetrates the U.S. MarketKenyan Flower Exporter K-NET Penetrates the U.S. Market
K-Net Flowers, a Kenyan consolidator and exporter of cut flowers, entered into a formal partnership with a U.S. company, InBloom, in late 2008 to be its official procurement office. K-NET has been the recipient of ECA Hub technical assistance and sponsorship to attend the World Floral Expo in Miami, Florida for several years. InBloom is a fair trade certified company based in Florida. The company sells flowers in bulk directly to major supermarkets throughout the United States and Canada. Participating as an exhibitor within the ECA Hub-organized East Africa Pavilion at the World Floral Expo in Miami, March 4-6, 2008, K-Net Flowers met representatives from InBloom who subsequently visited Kenya at K-Net's invitation. This resulted in the two companies deciding to jointly exhibit at the Super Floral trade show in Orlando, Florida, June 15-20, 2008. As a result of this partnership, K-Net Flowers has begun weekly shipments of 10,000 stems to the United States.
Recognizing the potential success of the export of East African flowers to the U.S. under AGOA, the ECA Hub collaborated with the African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) and sponsored the first delegation of 12 companies from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda to attend the World Floral Expo in 2006. Following on the success of this foray, the ECA Hub sponsored an East Africa Pavilion at the expo to showcase flowers from the region in 2007 and 2008, an effort that has exposed East African intermediate-sized roses and summer flowers to the United States market.
USAID East Africa’s Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Program (COMPETE), under its East and Central Africa (ECA) Trade Hub component, organized an Africa Pavilion at the Super Floral Show (www.superfloral.com) which took place from June 10-12 in Atlanta, Georgia. Under the banner, “Grown Under the Sun: Africa Flowers”, the show was attended by 14 companies from the region including 3 from Ethiopia, 8 from Kenya, 1 from Mauritius and 2 from Tanzania. Heads of each country’s horticultural association representing a wide variety of cut flower exporters also attended.
Several U.S. buyers commented on the outstanding floral dis-plays and high degree of professionalism in marketing and logistics from all of the Africa Pavilion participants. Buyers were enthusiastic about the variety and quality of flowers on display. A number of varieties of flowers drew keen interest, including colored lilies from Kenya and tropical anthurium from Mauritius.
As a result of efforts by companies like K-Net, East African flowers, particularly roses, have established a favorable niche in the market. Results from the Super Floral show have been extremely positive. Exhibitors from the Africa Pavilion made tangible contacts with U.S. buyers and are currently following up on business leads. K-Net Flowers is responding to buyer requests for sample product which will likely result in new business. Another exhibitor, Peeush Mahajan, CEO of East African Growers says, “We enjoyed the show thoroughly and have made contacts which will definitely generate business.”
To capitalize on the momentum generated at Super Floral, COMPETE is working with growers and horticulture associations in the region to focus their efforts on marketing the “Africa flower” brand. Fostering regional cooperation and developing the Africa brand will help give African flower growers an edge in competing in the global marketplace. With more African flowers being shipped to the U.S., chances are that you will feel the warmth of the African sun the next time you buy flowers at your local market.