IFTEX 2024: An Excellent Instrument for All

The eleventh edition of the International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX) Nairobi has just ended. We had an opportunity to speak to Dick van Raamsdonk, President HPP, and the organizer of the event. Below are the excerpts;

1.After staging the IFTEX the eleventh edition are you happy with the outcome. What would you attribute this success to considering you indicated the show has exceeded expectations?

I am the happiest man in this show. The growth is tremendous. In addition, the fact that Kenya is the only country in the world where the production area of flowers structurally increases is a strong indicator that the sector -overall- is in a good shape. 

Moreover, growth in a worldwide economic turmoil shows that the sector has to row against the stream and still moves forward. This cannot mean anything different than strength for even more growth when coming into calm waters. Therefore IFTEX is an excellent instrument for the Kenyan floriculture Industry to support and accelerate this growth.

What was your most ‘unexpected’ occurrence at the show, e.g. looking at the exhibitors list, did you expect a smaller number?
No, I did not expect a lower number of exhibitors. I was 100% confident that this trade fair could not fail and would be a “full house”. Never before in my 39 year career of organising flower trade expos anywhere else in the world, I had so many excellent building parts in my hand to create the almost ‘perfect’ flower trade exhibition, I am even tempted to call it.

Being a flower trade expo specialist, I got very excited the moment I added it all up and suddenly visualized the ideal theme. It was somehow still unexpected though when I finally I managed to get enough more growers and exhibitors than last year on board.

Out of the total 188 exhibitors, we had 79 growers compared to 64 last year. Kenya Flower Council (KFC) also facilitated in making the expo a success by mobilizing its producer members and other stakeholders for a sustainability conference a day before. The show attracted bigger buyers compared to last year though they were fewer in number. The buyers represented main markets mainly Europe, Far and Middle East, Australia among other regions.

Back to the exhibitors list is it the same group of exhibitors that has repeatedly exhibited? Or you are getting new entrants.
IFTEX 2024 had a combination of exhibitors. Of course the repeat exhibitors were a more which is a good sign. This shows they are getting value for their money which is a good gesture to HPP. We also managed to get new entrants in both the growers category and suppliers too. Most of the exhibitors came from Kenya but we had growers from Uganda and Ethiopia. Tanzania industry is still small and the growers are not promoting themselves.
Click here to view event photos

When is IFTEX 2025? Do you expect a bigger IFTEX 2025? Why, if yes?
We have slotted June 3rd to 5th as the tentative dates assuming everything remains constant.

 Yes, IFTEX will definitely grow in its twelfth edition next year. Not only because of many more Kenyan growers who want to exhibit this time, but also repeat exhibitors wanting to display in bigger stands. Our growth has remained edged towards the bigger growers but we are putting more emphasis to the smaller growers. This year we had around 10% growth of the small growers and we are happy with the growth. We will offer more space to smaller growers next year. Growers are key profile exhibitors for the buyers to visit.

Furthermore, IFTEX has become a regional event, hosting growers from other African flower producing countries that are too small on its own to hold such event. And as already mentioned, IFTEX has grown to become the Africa’s flower grower trade fair, becoming the sourcing market for the world for any African fresh cut flowers.

What can you single out as the most outstanding feature of IFTEX Nairobi in terms of exhibitions and visitors?
The only event where you can meet all flower growers at the same time and place, together with its buyers.

When you first spoke twelve years ago on IFTEX Nairobi, you said it had potential to grow into the largest flower fair in the world. What are the other big events in the world, and how do you rate Kenya today.
The other big cut flowers trade events are in Ecuador, Colombia, Germany and Holland. Kenya has joined this list and become a serious competitor for the number one position. Compare it if you like with the European Cup, South American and the now strong African cup.

Two hours from now, we will be unpacking our bags and close the eleventh exhibition. What kind of feedback has HPP gotten from the exhibitors this year? Can you point one good example of something that has happened because of the fair?
It may be early to speak. But so far the feedback is positive; above expectations and the most important outcome is confidence in the future of this fair. There will be many new international exhibitors as well signing up for 2025. Furthermore most, if not all 2024 exhibitors will be present again next year with, in many occasions, bigger sized stands.

The most important thing that could have happened in the fair and which actually did happen is the change from doubt in belief that flower buyers did fly in and did attend the expo.

What is new in 2024 that was not there in 2023?
The ‘only’ thing that was new is: everything more & bigger!!!

 As an investor in Kenya, what is your view on business climate, what are the most challenging encounters, and how would you suggest that things be done differently or improved?
The sector is facing numerous challenges especially growing of production and freight costs. The demands from consumers especially Europe, Australia and china are also increasing daily. This may call for heavy investments hence increased costs of production. This may not be entirely Kenyan issue but as a country it may be called upon to cushion the sector for it to remain competitive.

In conclusion, an investor needs a stable economic and political environment. Only then an investor is willing to keep on investing, especially foreign investors and then can a country expect more jobs and consequently a better lifestyle for its citizens.