Shipping & Logistics

Avocado exporters reap big as demand shoots by 80pc

Avocado farmer tends her crop. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Avocado exporters are reporting an increase in demand of up to 80 percent in comparison to last season, even as the peak season from March to August is yet to set in.

Currently, exporters are experiencing high demand from United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The demand has increased by as much as 50 to 80 percent compared to last season with more customers demanding full container of avocadoes monthly.

The country’s biggest importers are the United Arab Emirates, which shipped approximately 12,041 tonnes in 2017 and Saudi Arabia is fourth with 4,874 tonnes.

Kenya is the largest exporter of avocado in Africa as of 2017, according to statistics from the multilateral agency International Trade Centre. It produces an average of 191,000 tonnes of avocados per year and exports approximately 51,507 tonnes of the fruit while South Africa exports 43,492 tonnes, annually.

“On average, I export eight tonnes of avocados a month to the Middle East but at the moment, I am getting enquires from three to four clients weekly who are requesting a full container,” said Frank Gathogo, the Managing Director of FarmGrown Kenya Limited, a fresh produce export company.


A four-foot container can fit 2,000 cartons of avocados and one carton is approximately four kilos.

Therefore, he is receiving avocado demand of eight tonnes from one client, the same amount that he exports from all his clients in a month.

“To sustain the market, one has to be consistent and that is what I am doing with customers. I assure them on the amount that I can deliver,” said Mr Gathogo.

The second largest consumer of Kenyan avocadoes is the Netherlands with 10,566 tonnes annually, the third is France at 10,423 tonnes, according to the 2017 International Trade Centre statistics.

Europe is the largest market for the country’s horticulture, with the top 10 importers coming from the region.

These include the United Kingdom at position six with 2,944 tonnes and Spain at seventh with 1,734 tonnes.

“We are currently experiencing a 10 per cent increase in demand a week compared to the previous season. Usually we export two containers a week, which is about 46 tonnes,” said Bernard Kimutai, an agronomist at FairTrade Enterprise Limited, a fresh produce exporting company, expects that demand to rise as it approaches March. .

“We export to the Netherlands as well as Spain and we have had to increase the production of our farmers in order to ensure that we meet the demand.”

The rising demand of avocado has also been attribute to the reopened avocado market in South Africa, last year. Kenya lost the market in 2007 after South Africa claimed that most of the key fruit production areas in the country were infested with fruit fly.

The ban led to the sector losing approximately Sh2.3 billion annually, according to Andrew Edewa, vice chairperson of the Horticulture National Technical Working Group.

- African Laughter