Kenyan avocado exports to China hit Sh9 billion in the three months to May, defying steep competition in the market from Chile — a top producer of the fruit globally.
Kenya exported seven million kilogrammes to Beijing between March and May this year as more farms and pack houses tapped into the lucrative Chinese market.
Crops agency -- Kenya Plants Inspectorate Service (Kephis) -- says the number of exporters who have been licensed to access the Chinese market from January to date has shot to 78, comprising 58 farms and 20 pack houses.
This is an increase from 25 last year.
Kephis principal inspector George Momanyi said more farms and pack houses are seeking access to the lucrative Chinese market that offers a good price compared with the traditional European and Middle East markets.
“We have seen a huge increase in terms of demand for exports of our avocado to China. This has boosted the earnings the country is getting from this new market,” said Mr Momanyi.
He said Kenya’s produce faces steep competition from Chile, whose crop is in season and has flooded the Chinese market.
“The earnings would be more than what we recorded were it not for Chile fruits that have flooded the Chinese market,” said the official.
Kenya started exporting avocados to China last August after many years of waiting, occasioned by regulatory requirements by the authorities in Beijing.
The country had long been seeking the Chinese market, but there was a requirement that Kenya would only be allowed to ship frozen fruits, not fresh ones.
The logistics involved and the lack of necessary infrastructure delayed access to the Chinese market since the agreement was first reached between Kenya and China in 2019.
When the market was opened in August last year, avocado earnings to China recorded Sh7 billion in three months to October, which exceeded the Sh6 billion that Kenya had earned between March and July of the same year, highlighting how important the Chines market is to the country.
Producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocados to China have to ensure that all their production farms, pack houses and fumigation treatment facilities are registered as one of the conditions to access that market.
All the fresh avocado fruits meant for export must also comply with applicable Chinese phytosanitary (plant health) laws and regulations, health and safety standards and be free from any quarantine pests of concern to China.