Fresh produce exporters turn to sea amid air freight frustrations

Fresh produce exporters turn to sea amid air freight frustrations

Mofarm Fresh Fruits Exporters Director Elijah Njoroge explains the stages avocado go through before they are packaged for export. Exporters of fresh produce are eyeing to move more of their cargo by sea to stem losses they have been incurring due to inadequate air transport capacity.

They say they are being forced to cancel orders from clients in major markets, and even discard as much as a quarter of their produce, due to inadequate air freight capacity.

This is largely due to constrained capacity by national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) , which cannot evacuate all their produce, but also the government’s reluctance to allow other airlines to increase their cargo capacity in and out of the country.

Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Mr Clement Tulezi said the frustrations have forced the industry to consider sea freight as an alternative to exporting their produce.

He estimated that five per cent of local fresh produce meant for export is going through sea freight and projects this could go up to about 20 per cent over the next two years, and further to 50 per cent in eight years.

“We are shifting our focus to sea freight and have been experimenting with all the fresh produce – vegetables, fruits and flowers – and so far we have been successful,” Mr Tulezi said. “The produce can stay at sea for 30 days from here to, for example, Rotterdam and when it gets there, you cannot tell the difference between what was transported by air or by sea.

“There is technology that enables us to keep, for instance, roses without opening up for a month. This is such that when they get to the market, you would not be able to differentiate between what was harvested yesterday and a month ago.” Kenya’s export of fresh produce by sea was negligible until recently when avocado exports started going up, with the fruit’s producers preferring sea freight.

Mr Tulezi said the industry is bent on pushing more produce to sea freight and said it is working with the Kenya Ports Authority to increase facilities available for fresh produce exporters at the Inland Container Depots at Suswa and Nairobi, and a berth at the Port of Mombasa.

He said producers have in the recent past been lobbying transport and aviation authorities to be help them manoeuvre the challenges they have been experiencing when trying to increase exports through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

The lengthy talks […]

Stay in the Know!

Sign up for the latest news and information on African Companies and Economy.

By signing up, you agree to receive MoneyInAfrica offers, promotions and other commercial messages. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply