Integrated Marketing Communication strategy to boost Kenya’s horticultural exports

Kenya has developed a one-year marketing strategy for its horticulture products targeting the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Russia and United States of America towards achieving a 10% export growth in 2020/2021.

This was done during a three-day workshop held in Rift Valley Lodge, Naivasha that was hosted by the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPBA) in collaboration with the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC – Kenya), Kenya Airways and the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEA).

The Integrated Marketing Communication Strategy (IMC) between the Agency and the horticultural sector is hailed as the first of its kind and is expected to work towards achieving a coordinated communication programme that is customer focused and consistent towards achieving a competitive advantage for the horticultural produce.

Kenyan avocados ready for export. Photo-Kilimo News

Speaking during the opening of the three-day workshop, The Agency’s Board Committee Chair of Strategy Marketing, Communication and Quality Assurance, Ms Kathleen Kihanya said Kenya is well positioned and has a basket of God’s natural blessings which include excellent weather and close proximity to the Equator, resulting in the high quality of horticulture products, that give Kenya a competitive edge.

“It is encouraging to see all horticulture sector players joining hands and corporately developing an integrated marketing strategy that will ensure that the story of our unique, good quality products is effectively communicated globally,” she said.

The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency CEO Dr. Wilfred Marube, said the multisectoral collaboration with key players in the horticultural sector in developing the strategy will ensure all the producers in the horticultural industry are holistically engaged for maximizing results. “As an Agency, we can only rely on the producers since our role is to facilitate exports growth in the targeted and emerging markets,” he opined.

The Horticultural sector remains among Kenya’s top four foreign exchange earners for the country. In 2019, the horticultural sector accounted for 19% of Kenya’s total exports. This was made up of floriculture at 11%, fruits and vegetables at 4% each. In the same year, Kenya’s key destinations for the horticultural exports included Netherlands (Kshs. 39.1 billion), United Kingdom (Kshs. 23.9 billion), United Arab Emirates (Kshs. 5.7 billion), and United States of America (Kshs. 5.4 billion and Germany (Kshs. 5.2 billion).

 These leading five markets accounted for 13% of Kenya’s total exports and 72% of Kenya’s exports on horticulture respectively. In the first quarter of the year 2020, Kenya registered horticultural exports worth Kshs. 33.9 billion, up by Kshs. 0.2 billion compared with the Kshs. 33.7 billion registered in the same period in 2019. In the second quarter of 2020, a lower export value of horticulture amounting to Kshs. 23.9 billion was registered compared to Kshs. 27.2 billion registered in the same period in 2019.

Generally, Kenya’s half-year exports of horticulture decreased by Kshs. 3 billion from Kshs. 60.9 billion in 2019 to Kshs. 57.9 billion in the same period in 2020. The decrease is attributable to the emergence of COVID -19 and the measures to control its spread which saw nations closing their borders, thus hindering exports.

Some of the outlined strategies include combined horticultural events planning, advocacy on common issues, public relations activities, digital marketing and compelling storytelling campaigns.

The three Chief Executives from the horticultural sector were all in support of the IMC initiative.

 “While Kenya produces some of the best fresh produce sold at the international markets, we haven’t fully exploited this potential. It is therefore timely that we develop a strategy to communicate deliberately on our offering. As a sector, we are delighted to be part of this very important process of determining the trajectory of enhancing the exports of Kenya’s horticulture produce,” said Hosea Michuki the CEO, FPEAK.

“It’s the beginning of a process that the horticultural industry has longed for. A joint push and collaboration of Government and private sector to create a concrete brand for horticulture products in the export market. For the industry, we must demonstrate to the market our niche and differentiation of Kenya’s products so we can be competitive. We believe we have products that can be on top of the world and dominate the market, but a lot still needs to be done to make consumers make informed decisions.  This is where the IMC sits,” opined Mr. Clement Tulezi of KFC.

“This partnership between The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency and the horticulture industry is the best thing that has happened. We are looking forward to the sustainable growth of the fresh produce sector as we focus on taking the lead in the fresh produce exporters,” said Okisegere Ojepat of FPC- Kenya. In support of the IMC approach, the Kenya Airways representatives attending the workshop reiterated that the implementation of this strategy will contribute to the sustainable growth of the horticultural industry in Kenya and work towards making Kenya Airways become the top 5 horticultural airline carrier in the World.

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