Service and Operations Management

The Flower and the Volcano: How Eyajafjallajökull Disrupted Kenya's Flower Industry

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On the morning of April 19, 2010, Mr. Eduard Ngugi, the manager of the Uraidi rose farm, was considering what to do with the roses that had filled the cold storage for the past 2 days. By this time, the roses, sitting in the cold storage room on the shore of Lake Naivasha, Kenya, should have found their way into the homes of western European customers. However, the explosive eruption in Iceland of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on April 14 had grounded all the flights leaving from Nairobi to Europe. This meant that Mr. Ngugi could no longer air freight the roses from his farm to the flower auction market at Aalsmeer, Netherlands, from which the roses where distributed across Europe. With a cultivated surface of 20 hectares, the Uraidi rose farm had the capacity to harvest 160,000 to 180,000 rose stems daily. Hearing the news of the closure of air space over Europe, Mr. Ngugi had stopped all the harvesting related work on his farm for the past two days. However, it was about time that he cleared the cold storage to make room for the fresh lot of roses from the farm. Mr. Ngugi had been promised a flight from Nairobi to Vitoria in Spain on the morning of April 19. This meant that he could send the batch of roses waiting in the cold storage first to Vitoria, and then through refrigerated vans to Aalsmeer by mid-day of April 20. The roses would not be auctioned before the morning of April 21. Mr. Ngugi was worried that by the time the flowers reach the auction market, they would be wilted and would fetch very low price. This would also involve the additional cost of transportation. But there were not many alternatives available to him: either he took the flight or dumped the roses for cattle fodder.
Bibliographic citation: Chaturvedi, Aadhaar; Martínez de Albéniz, Victor, "The Flower and the Volcano: How Eyajafjallajökull Disrupted Kenya's Flower Industry", IESE, P-1106-E, 06/2011
Date: 23/06/2011
Author(s): Chaturvedi, Aadhaar; Martínez de Albéniz, Victor
Document type: Case
Editor(s): CIIL - Centro Internacional de Investigación Logística
Department: Production, Technology and Operations Management
Sector: Distribution
Languages: Spanish / English
Year of the events: 2010