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Orange roses in a greenhouse

Creating resilience and sustainability in flower supply chains


Department for International Development (now Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), COVID-19 Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF)

Total value of project 


Value to Coventry University


Project team

Dr David Bek, Dr Jill Timms


Fairtrade Foundation (lead), MM Flowers, Tesco, The Co-operative, Marks and Spencer, Fairtrade Africa, The Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET), Women Working Worldwide, Partner Africa, Emerging Leaders

Duration of project

01/08/2020 - 30/06/2021

Project overview

The floriculture sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In early March 2020, retailers reduced their flower orders to prioritise essential goods, flights were grounded and governments banned public gatherings including weddings and limiting funerals. The falling sales took a toll on a sector with very narrow margins. Flowers are an important sector for Kenya, worth $1.15 billion annually and employing 150,000 people directly and an estimated 2 million indirectly, mostly women. The sector has been adversely affected by the manifold impacts of Covid-19, both locally and within market nations. The weight of these impacts is  being felt by overseas producers and their families, including food insecurity, lack of PPE, poor access to hygiene, lack of transport and job insecurity – all exacerbated by low or no wages and non-existent savings.

This project provides rapid forms of support to workers including provision of PPE. The project is also undertaking various forms of research to better understand the impacts of the pandemic so that longer lasting support can be provided and to better understand the factors which help supply chains to be resilient during times of crisis. This is important for ensuring that retailers are able to continue procuring goods from overseas in the future.

The Coventry University team are contributing through investigations into purchasing practices at retailer and consumer levels. We are seeking to better understand how the configuration of supply chains and the relationships therein affect resilience and sustainability. We are especially interested in finding out what role certifications such as Fairtrade play in supporting stakeholders in the supply chain. Our methodology includes interviews with commercial stakeholders and online roundtable events bringing together different interest groups to share their experiences of operating in the pandemic.

Project objectives

  1. To address the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis social needs.
  2. To address the sustainability of the system.
  3. To improve purchasing practices and increase consumer awareness.

Building Resilience in Flower Supply chains

Promoting Fairer Trade Purchasing, Awareness and Demand

Find out more

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