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JOHANNESURG: February 21, 2017. Air Cargo Africa 2017 opened with its second Flower & Perishables Shippers' Forum - hosted by Saudia Cargo.

The forum was attended by over 90 delegates who heard the panelists discuss the need for perishables shippers to have logistics partners who can ensure access to a reliable cool chain that includes sufficient capacity, facilities and timely delivery – ideally an "end-to-end service".

The forum also discussed how all stakeholders could improve the perishables supply chain to guarantee flower suppliers a required level of shipment integrity.

Perishables conference Joburg 2017According to Royal Flora Holland, manager of the Aalsmeer flower auctions, Kenya remains its top source for flowers with 43.7 percent of its total imports valued at €755 million in 2015. Ethiopia was second with 23.8 percent of the market.

In the last full week before Valentine's Day this year, Royal Flora said it recorded a €142 million turnover for 300 million stems of cut flowers with 33 percent roses and a similar amount of tulips.

The value of Ethiopian flower exports has risen from €133 million in 2010 to €333 million in 2015. Some 91 percent is exported to the Netherlands, with a large proportion sold via Royal Flora Holland to Germany, France and the UK.

Kenya, which remains Africa's No.1 flower exporter, has increased its export volume from 10,946 tons in 1988 to 122,825 tons in 2015 – supplying the European Union with 38 percent of all flower imports to the main markets of the Netherlands, U.K., Germany, France and Switzerland.

An independent company since 2008, Saudia Cargo is part the Saudi government's 'Vision 2030' program that aims to transform the Kingdom's strategic location into a global hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. The vision also includes increasing SME contribution to the Saudi economy from 20 percent to 35 percent.

Saudia Arabia is one of the 110 countries that have accepted the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that came into force a day after the Shippers' Forum in Johannesburg.

The TFA promotes trade by establishing harmonized rules for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods based on a commitment to accepting e-payments and electronic documentation.

Moderated by Saudia Cargo vice president Operations Joseph Notter (left of picture), the Shippers' Forum included presentations by Panalpina Airflo Kenya managing director Conrad Archer; Jane Ngige CEO of the Kenya Flower Council and Sian Roses Group; Qatar Airways Cargo senior manager Cargo Products David Beecham; Dirk Hanekom CEO of Agri All Africa and Stanley Winterbach managing director of Agri All Africa Nigeria.

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