Emirates SkyCargo continues to witness increased demand for freight capacity from Kenya, having exported 27,000 tonnes of fresh flowers to Europe and the rest of the world in 2018. In January 2019 alone, over 2,200 tonnes of flowers were exported from the country.
Every day, Emirates SkyCargo transports fresh flowers across its global network of over 150 destinations.
This includes the flowers transported on board dedicated freighters from major flower exporting countries such as Kenya and Ecuador directly to Amsterdam, as well as flowers transported in the belly hold of passenger aircraft from countries such as India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.
Fresh flowers including roses form the bulk of export commodities transported on Emirates SkyCargo freighters from Kenya. Flower exports reach their peak between September and October but the demand for roses stays consistent throughout the year, with a spike in January and early February, ahead of Valentine’s Day. This often necessitates deploying additional freighters to meet growing demand.
This Valentine’s Day, Emirates SkyCargo is deploying two additional charters from Nairobi, one departing for the Netherlands and another freighter to Australia. It was the first time that Emirates SkyCargo deployed a freighter directly from Nairobi to Sydney, Australia.
“Nairobi remains an important freighter station in the region, with a daily SkyCargo freighter transporting flower exports from the region, across our network. Our Boeing 777 freighters can carry up to 100 tonnes of cargo, allowing uplift of a large volume of cargo. In addition to our scheduled services, we also operate charter services on our freighters if there is a specific request from customers,” said Mr. Saeed Abdulla, Emirates Cargo Manager for East Africa.
“Perishable products, especially fresh flowers, require efficient air transport links to reach international markets on time. We have witnessed an increase in demand and we foresee that it will grow further this year,” Mr. Abdulla added.
The journey of flower exports begins on a farm where they are harvested by hand. The freshly harvested flowers are then sorted, arranged in bouquets and hand packed into boxes, which are then loaded on the aircraft.
In order to ensure maximum freshness and shelf life, the flowers are maintained between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade. Emirates SkyCargo has designed a specialised portfolio of solutions for airfreighting different kinds of perishable cargo. Emirates Fresh Breathe provides ventilated cool chain solutions for delicate perishables including fresh cut flowers.
By facilitating the global export of flowers from Kenya, Emirates SkyCargo makes an important economic contribution to the country where the cultivation of flowers is an important local industry.
An estimated half a million people are involved in the floriculture industry in Kenya. The Horticultural Crop Directorate puts the generated revenue from floriculture at USD 823 million in 2017.
Kenya is the lead exporter of rose cut flowers to the European Union (EU) with a market share of 38%, according to figures from the Kenya Flower Council. An estimated 50% of exported flowers are sold through the Dutch Auctions, although direct sales to other countries are also growing. Kenyan flowers are currently sold in more than 60 countries.
In the United Kingdom, supermarkets are the main outlets for Kenyan exports. Other produce such as fresh vegetables, green beans, fruits, and meat are also exported from Kenya on Emirates SkyCargo.
Ms. Beatrice Achieng, flower farm staff member, recounts her experience working in flower farms, the impact on her livelihood and ability to provide for her children, “I have been working in different flower farms for the past seven years.
This work has created an avenue for me to provide for my loved ones. It is also very gratifying to know that the flowers we harvest and package on this farm ends up all around the world and helps our country move forward.”
Emirates SkyCargo connects cargo customers across more than 155 destinations on six continents including over 40 cities linked by scheduled freighter services.