Kenyan avocados are proving popular with Chinese consumers, driving increased demand for exports. The news comes as a boost to Kenyan agricultural firms and farmers eyeing the international market.
Three years after President Uhuru Kenyatta inked a deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping allowing Kenya to export avocados to China, the first batch of avocados of the Hass variety arrived in Shanghai on July 27, 2022. 15 firms have so far been cleared by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) to export avocados to China following stringent inspection of their facilities.
“First batch of Kenyan fresh avocado arrived in Shanghai on 27th July! I’m told Chinese importers show strong interests in these high-quality avocado and plan to import in a bigger scale. I look forward to more good news on the import of African agri-products,” tweeted Wu Peng, Director-General in charge of African Affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Among companies which have began exporting avocados to China are Sunripe and publicly-listed Kakuzi Plc. Kakuzi on Saturday, July 30th shared images of its first China-bound shipment at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The China exports are expected to drive up the company’s earnings in the current financial year. The company posted a 48.5 per cent decline in profitability to Ksh319 million for the year ended December 2021 on cyclic dips in productivity.
The company has been gradually increasing the acreage for cultivation of avocados – the biggest contributor to its profits. From around 300 acres in the early years, Kakuzi had 2,179 acres planted with avocados in 2020 as noted in its annual financial statements.
Besides the avocados grown by the company itself, Kakuzi runs a programme with over 3,500 smallholder farmers receiving access to best practices and the international market for Hass avocados. The farmers in Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Meru and Nandi are likely to benefit should demand from China for Hass avocados stay on the rise.
Traditionally, Kakuzi’s biggest international markets has been Europe and the UK.
China had initially put up tough requirements for Kenyan firms seeking to export avocados and required Kenya to only export the frozen crop. In March, however, China changed its stance and allowed Kenya to export fresh avocados.
Among other rules, producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocados to China must have their facilities including production farms, pack houses and fumigation treatment facilities registered by Kephis.