Ten years of consistency in growing world class sustainable flowers

Ten years of consistency in growing world class sustainable flowers

Ten years ago, in the vibrant Timau town at the foothills of Mount Kenya, an idea by manufacturing behemoth Bobmil Group was hatched to establish a new venture, farming and exporting roses.
In May 2013, development started on the first phase of 20 hectares and the first T-Hybrid roses were planted. That initial investment has now morphed into a flower production powerhouse that includes 41 hectares of large bloom and high-quality roses, taken care of by a hard-working team of 545 workers, which is recognized as a brand of choice in global markets. To date, the farm operations remain inspired by a passion for quality, continued innovation and a drive to be the best-in-class flower producer.

The story and journey of Bloomingdale Roses Kenya are synonymous with quality, consistency, and tenacity. Each process is carefully overlooked from the greenhouse to the markets we engage in being given dedicated attention. This has seen the farm grow its portfolio to over 40 hectares. Our high grade produce is aligned with climatic conditions and the altitude of the farm’s location, We focus on the production of premium T-hybrid roses that continue to excite export markets.

“Ever since we set up ten years ago, one of our main driving forces which guides our philosophy and defines our DNA is that we do not compromise on quality. Taking shortcuts is not part of our ethos because we are consumer led and take time to listen to what the customers want and retool our business model to respond to their requests. This philosophy has given us a competitive edge in the market,” said Sunil Chaudhari the General Manager of the flower farm.

To ensure that the flowers are grown sustainably, the company has invested in various innovations and environmentally friendly practices.

Bloomingdale has embraced biological, organic pest and disease control methods. This protects workers and the environment and ensures that the flowers meet and exceed global standards.
The impacts of climate change continue to be felt, as occasioned by erratic weather patterns and failed rains, that have seen companies struggle with water supply. To counter these impacts, Bloomingdale has invested in water collection mechanisms including dams and rainwater harvesting from greenhouses through the installation of gutters. “It is one of the most sustainable investments we have done so far and we are glad it is paying off. Our water reservoirs have ensured that in the unfortunate event that there is an acute shortage of water, the farm can comfortably run with the harvested water for seven months,” added Sunil.

The flower farm uses mulch films in its greenhouses to protect flowers from pests and diseases while maintaining the highest level of hygiene which helps it to produce healthy and consistent flowers. It recycles the mulch films that have been in use for a long time.

Our state of the art packhouse is the heartbeat of our farm. We have invested in ultra-modern machines to do stamping which ultimately reduces packaging time.

One of the biggest expenses for the flower farm is energy cost with reliance on electricity to run operations that range from pumping water and maintaining cold storage. The flower farm is in the final stages of moving to solar energy as it looks at innovative ways to cut down on the prohibitive electricity costs that have affected its bottom line.

“We are keen on embracing clean, green and sustainable energy sources as part of our commitment to a just transition and reduction of carbon footprint. Transitioning to solar energy will also see us reduce energy costs by around 15 to 20 per cent while allowing us to have a consistent and uninterrupted power supply that will bolster the operations.” Sunil noted.
Investment in these sustainable practices has seen the firm earn globally acclaimed accreditations such as MPS A.

Various markets have been receptive to Bloomingdale flowers. Having started fully on auctions, the company has diversified to the German and Japan auction whilst also diverting minimal produce to direct markets in the middle east. Our foothold in the various auctions has also garnered immense interest with clients who buy our products continually at these auctions.

From cradle to grave flowers are essential at every step however it has not always been a very rosy journey. As is the case with Kenya’s floriculture industry, the company has been grappling with high freight charges and a lack of capacity that have taken a toll on production and export numbers. Sunil quotes an example of this year’s Valentine’s Day where freight charges hit $6 per kilo of flowers, a three-fold increase from what the flower farms pay.

“We appeal to the government to support the Kenyan flower industry, especially on the freight issue. Growers have demonstrated they are willing to do their best to produce world-class quality flowers. But they are being significantly hindered by the exorbitant freight charges that make the Kenyan flowers uncompetitive in the global market,” Sunil further said.

Having said that, the farm has found innovative ways to beat the odds. Its resilience is evident in the way it handled COVID-19. It retained all its workers at a time when a bulk of growers were either laying off their staff or sending them on temporary leave. Sunil says this was a tactical move, which ensured that when demand later peaked, the farm was ready.

In what demonstrates Bloomingdale’s commitment to people and the planet, the company has been involved in CSR activities ranging from investment in the education sector, construction of roads and drainage systems, uplifting the girl child and helping the elderly. It was also actively involved in assisting local communities with various interventions during COVID including giving them food supplies.

The owners and Directors of Bloomingdale maintain one vision – to grow high-quality, sustainable flowers that places the Kenya floriculture sector firmly on the global map. In order to achieve this, they fully support plans to expand the company’s cultivation area from 41 to 60 Hectares. This, they believe, will enable Bloomingdale and Kenya to maintain a commitment to the global floriculture market with good quality produce and consistent availability.

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