Kenyan flower firms expected to make good sales from their roses during this Valentine’s season, like in previous years. This year will be different as they have been hit with low demand resulting from Europe’s current economic weakness. A rise in cargo charges by freighters from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has complicated matters for them even further. Most flower companies may have to sell their flowers locally to avoid the unbearable cargo charges. Scheduled freighters from JKIA charge $2.80 this season for a kilo of cargo airlifted to Europe, they charged $1.80 previously. On the other hand, airlines that have been issued with a short-time license to operate flights out of JKIA for Valentine’s season only, normally referred to as ad hoc flights, are charging as high as $3.50 for a kilo of freight. “Uncertainty caused by high freight charges and the recession in Europe that has cut expenditure on luxuries such as flowers, makes it difficult for our firms to export most of their produce this Valentine’s,” said Richard Fernandes Kenya Flower Council chairman. About half of Europe is faced with economic weaknesses, partly attributed to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine that has paralyzed most of the world’s major economies. This is according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Kenya’s 40 percent of annual flower sales are Valentine’s flower sales going to Europe. The continent is also a top buyer of Kenya’s other fresh produce. Unlike the previous years when the demand for export volumes surpassed the available capacity, this year freighters say the available cargo for export is just enough to fill the available space. “The demand for Kenyan roses during Valentine’s is low… and there has been a lack of demand from the retailers in Europe, hence the existing flights will be enough for this period,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, chief executive officer of Astral Aviation, whose airline operates cargo in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Mr. Fernandes has indicated that some of the flower firms will have no choice but to sell their flowers locally rather than incur the high freight costs to ship them out of the country with no prospect of making some margins. “It will be difficult for some flower firms to export their commodity when it is not clear whether they will break even,” he said. Locally, flower sales may experience good business but only on Valentine’s Day. Therefore, the firms will not be able to make adequate sales of their available stocks. The firms are likely to incur wastage from the flowers’ perishability and general losses in revenue.