Chinese market  opens up to Kenyan avocados

Chinese market opens up to Kenyan avocados

The signing of two protocols between Kenya and China early in the year to facilitate export of avocados and aquatic products have opened the doors for the export of the fresh produce to the lucrative market that has expressed insatiable demand for the Kenyan avocados.

Kenya has now become the first African country to export fresh avocados to China. The prospects are likely to grow with China being the tenth leading importer of avocado globally.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) stated that 15 Kenyan firms had been cleared by Chinese agencies to start the export of avocados to China, after their farms and premised met the requirements of the Chinese markets.

In a communique to stakeholders, KEPHIS Managing Director, Prof Theophilus Mutui, said that the Chinese National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) had approved the commencement of fresh avocado fruits exports from Kenya to China following the completion of a recent audit process.

The approved farms, packhouses and fumigation facility Prof Mutui explained will commence exports of fresh avocado to China under the close supervision of KEPHIS.

“Based on the audit, GACC has approved 15 orchards, nine packhouses and one fumigation facility as having a good quarantine pest management and traceability system in avocado orchards and packhouses to better implement the bilateral plant quarantine requirements.” Prof Mutui said.

He added, “The approved entities commence exports of fresh avocado to China under the supervision of KEPHIS. These are the only farms, packhouses and fumigation facilities authorized to export to China. However, KEPHIS is still undertaking audits for farms, packhouse and fumigation facilities interested to export fresh avocado to China to ensure compliance with the requirements for the China market. Compliant farms and facilities be submitted to GACC for approval as well.”

Exporters have already cashed in on the deal with the first consignment having been delivered in August.Kakuzi PLC and Sunripe Vertical Agro have already shipped fresh avocados to the Chinese market.Kakuzi recently confirmed that its inaugural Hass Avocado export cargo to China had been sold-out in the quality-conscious market.

The farm said the success of the first export cargo had paved the way for the pre-export planning for a second load.

“The first Kakuzi Hass Avocado export load to China was sold-out some weeks ago, and we currently don’t have any stocks in the market. We, however, hope to deliver another quality load of Hass Avocados in October, and the necessary orchard preparations are currently underway as per the specific Chinese protocols,” said Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Christopher Flowers.

On the experience of the farm in the Chinese market, Flowers noted: “The China fruit market is very advanced as far as consumption of agricultural commodities including superfoods such as Avocado is concerned. The regulatory entry process is stringent, and the consumers are extremely discerning and quality conscious. However, we are up to the task and commit to maintaining the Kakuzi quality consistency for all our exports to China, among other markets.”

Sunripe Vertical Agro, the second firm to have exported avocados to the Chinese market attributed the success of the venture to the support it received from government and other industry players which expedited the process of clearance, further adding that it was looking forward to more shipment and access to the market.

“What we have achieved as the business community, the government and the private sector, is unbelievable. China has big cities, the tier-one cities and the populations are phenomenal and that is where our avocados are going to go. In each city, there are five to 11 markets,” said Sunripe Managing Director Hasit Shah during the flagging off of the consignment.

According to the Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD), avocado exports rose from 66 million tonnes in 2018 to 86 million tonnes in 2021.

The government has announced that is targeting to export over 100,000 tonnes of avocados to China yearly in the coming years.

Traditionally, Kenya has been exporting an estimated 80,000 tonnes of avocados annually targeted at the European and Middle East markets.

“Kenya is the sixth-largest producer in the world and the first in Africa. China’s demand for avocados is still increasing. Kenya’s main season can make up for the off-season of other countries in South America. Thus, Kenya’s avocados will meet the demand. China welcomes better-quality avocados,” said Zhang Yijun, minister counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya at the flagging off ceremony.

Kakuzi is hopeful of growing the Kenyan market share in the Chinese market and is keen on upholding the protocols set in place in order to also tackle the growing competition in the lucrative market. “Kenya has a very bright market future in China, which we believe will absorb larger volumes like other traditional European markets. However, to achieve this we must strive to maintain quality standards and strict adherence to the specific Chinese protocols to market a competitive edge against other countries eyeing the lucrative market opportunity or already exporting to China,” Flowers added.

The firm has announced that it is also looking at expanding the avocado exports to the Malaysian market as part of its market diversification strategy.

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