Opportunities Bloom for African Growers at SuperFloral Show in Atlanta
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 SuperFloral Show ( www.superfloral.com ) which took place from June 10-12 in Atlanta, Georgia. SuperFloral is the largest trade show for volume buyers of cut flowers in North America and attracts participants from all over the world. 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 displays 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. East African flowers, particularly roses, have established a favourable niche in the market. These flowers are sold as “intermediates” or “sweethearts”; the roses on average have much smaller bulbs and shorter stems than those from Latin America. Their relatively small size gives them a competitive advantage: a much longer shelf-life (at least 14 days) due to the fact that they are lighter and therefore take longer to wilt and bend. The lighter weight and smaller size also makes them a better value for money when bunched in a bouquet, since a single bouquet of East African roses can contain many more stems. Buyers also noted that flowers from East Africa have more vibrant colors making them more appealing to consumers.
The highlight of SuperFloral was Africa Night which brought together participants from the Africa Pavilion and select buyers. Kenyan ambassador to the United States, Peter Ogego, opened the event and warmly thanked USAID COMPETE for organizing and bringing together companies from throughout the region under an “Africa” umbrella. Other speakers, including COMPETE’s ECA Trade Hub Advisor, Finn Holm-Olsen noted that the given the complexity and challenges of the U.S. flower market, regional cooperation as represented in the Africa Pavilion is the key to success for all.
Results from the SuperFloral 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 from Kenya is responding to buyer requests for sample product which will likely result in new business. Another exhibitor, Peeush Mahajan, CEO of East African Growers wrote, “We enjoyed the show thoroughly and have made contacts which will definitely generate business.” SuperFloral delivered benefits for the show organizers and buyers too as Leslie Rosa organizer of SuperFloral commented, “The African Pavilion was an excellent addition to the show floor, and proved to be a stand-out with the product and companies in representation.” Building upon the East and Central Africa Trade Hub's previous three-year effort at the World Floral Expo in Miami, COMPETE's Africa Pavilion at Super Floral emphatically stated that African flowers in the U.S. are here to stay.
The COMPETE project has a goal of increasing the volume and value of flower exports by at least 30% over the next four years. To capitalize on the momentum generated at SuperFloral, COMPETE is working with growers and horticulture associations in the region to focus marketing their efforts on the “Africa flower” brand. Challenges, chiefly in transportation logistics and costs, still remain. COMPETE is also educating individual companies about the intricacies of the U.S. flower market so that they can participate in future SuperFloral trade shows.
Fostering regional cooperation and developing the Africa brand will help give African flower growers an edge in competing in the global marketplace and increase sales. 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.