TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US end-market analysis for Kenyan cut flowers

Cut flowers are a major export industry in Kenya. Kenya presently ranks first among world exporters of roses to the European Union (EU), with a market share of 38 percent. However, the country has not yet made as deep of inroads into the cut flower market in the United States (U.S.). Kenyan cut flower exports to the U.S. have grown since 2010, but the country’s market share remains small, standing at 1 percent. This report analyzes emerging opportunities to increase Kenyan flower exports to the U.S. while taking advantage of the benefits granted under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

In 2016, Kenya ranked as the twelfth greatest supplier of cut flowers to the U.S. Nearly 90 percent of the cut flowers imported by the U.S. come from three countries: Colombia (59 percent), Ecuador (22 percent) and the Netherlands (7 percent). Colombia and Ecuador, who make up more than 80 percent of the imported flowers, present stiff competition. The countries profit from longstanding commercial relationships with the U.S. and geographic proximity, which reduces freight and transport costs. Both countries enjoy duty-free access to the U.S. market, as does Kenya.

Nonetheless, Kenya has a strong, competitive cut flower industry that is ready to explore new markets. The industry is profitable and technically competent, it has developed efficient logistics to the European markets and it offers high-quality flowers at competitive prices. If the industry can use these strengths and adjust to the U.S. market, there is an opportunity to develop a market niche for its flowers, including roses and other breeds.

This report assesses the U.S. market and offers the following recommendations for Kenyan cut flower exporters:

  • Expand and consolidate trade linkages with U.S. buyers.
  • Improve Kenyan flowers’ competitiveness through quality assurance, improved logistics and packaging. Factors directly contributing to the quality of flowers shipped long distances, particularly postharvest handling, packaging and an appropriate cold chain, need strengthening.
  • Position Kenyan roses in a different, but not inferior, market niche from Colombian and Ecuadorian roses and consider the potential of lilies, carnations and chrysanthemums, which Kenya currently exports and the U.S. imports, but are not a large part of Kenya-U.S. trade.
  • If exporters decide to access the bouquet market, Kenya has the capacity to source a wide variety of good quality products including cut foliage. This may be achieved either by elaborating bouquets at origin or liaising with a bouquet maker in Miami wishing to import specific flower types.
  • A strong connection between Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the phytosanitary authorities in the U.S., and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) needs to be developed to increase confidence in Kenyan products at the U.S. borders. KEPHIS also needs to develop pest risk analyses on specific flower types (particularly roses), which follow U.S. guidelines.
  • Strategic alliances and joint investments should be built with exporters from countries that have an advanced flower sector and can bring their technology, marketing and distribution capacities to the table.
  • Supply should be leveraged with flowers from other African countries that might use Nairobi airport for shipping of their produce.
  • Efforts to brand Kenyan flowers as unique are encouraged during promotion efforts, particularly for bouquets. Selling wholesale will have a lower impact as flowers will likely be mixed with those of other origins before reaching the end consumer.
Author East Africa Trade and Investment Hub
Organisation USAID
Publish Date 07 December 2017

Related News

Kenya: Businesswomen urged to form joint ventures to exploit US market

Kenya: Businesswomen urged to form joint ventures to exploit US market

Kenyan businesswomen have been urged to form joint ventures with American partners to exploit the US market and take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This was said during a US-Kenya business and networking summit, the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) held on Wednesday at United States International University – Africa. Themed,...

17 September, 2019
Kenya: Riddle of jobs boom in export zones amid gloom in economy

Kenya: Riddle of jobs boom in export zones amid gloom in economy

If your perception of Kenya’s labour market is that of a glass half empty, you could blame it on recent media headlines. But if you want to see it as a glass half full, then you might want to walk up to the offices of Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and have a little chat with one of the officials. Even as the country’s major industries continue to shed jobs,...

20 August, 2019
Joint statement between the US and the African Union concerning the development of the AfCFTA

Joint statement between the US and the African Union concerning the development of the AfCFTA

Deputy United States Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and African Union Commission Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga today signed a joint statement concerning trade between the United States and the African Union at the opening ceremony of the 2019 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.  The text of the Joint Statement is below: The United...

08 August, 2019
Kenya seeks to forge close security ties with US

Kenya seeks to forge close security ties with US

Kenya and the United States will continue to cooperate on security in the region, even as both sides focus on advancing economic ties. Ahead of the first Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington on Tuesday, Kenyan government officials say they expect the meeting to also cement security deals focusing on terrorism, policing and border protection. “The two countries are...

07 May, 2019
Kenyan EPZ companies make Sh77.2 billion in sales

Kenyan EPZ companies make Sh77.2 billion in sales

Kenya’s Export Processing Zone-based (EPZ) companies raked in Sh77.2 billion in sales last year, being a 14.7 percent growth compared to Sh67.3 billion realised in 2017. Newly released official data shows that exports, which formed the bulk of trading, rose by 19 percent from 60.7 billion in 2017 to Sh72.3 billion mainly attributed to increased market access in the...

06 May, 2019
Kenyan exports to the US under AGOA rose by 25% in 2018

Kenyan exports to the US under AGOA rose by 25% in 2018

Kenyan exports to the USA in the framework of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) rose by 25.8% in 2018, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) announced in a recent report. In the report, the KNBS indicates that these exports, mainly made of textile products, grew from Ksh33.1 billion in 2017 to Ksh41.6 billion in 2018. The exports under the AGOA...

30 April, 2019