NAIROBI, Kenya, August 28 – The first shipment of fresh avocados from Kenya has arrived on the Chinese market.
Kenya’s Ambassador to China, Muthoni Gichohi, graced the official handover ceremony for the first batch of fresh Kenya avocados exported to China, which also marks the first-ever export of these avocados from Africa.
The event took place in Beijing, China.
The Ambassador applauded the efforts of both governments towards this noble achievement.
She affirmed Kenya’s commitment to supporting the business communities of both countries as they look forward to improving trade facilitation as well as market access for their products and services to China.
This handover ceremony comes after this first shipment of fresh avocados to China was reported at Sunripe offices in Limuru on August 2, 2022. The event which was honored by Hon. David Osiany, Chief Administrative Secretary for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development.
“Kenya aims to export more than 100,000 tonnes of avocados. China’s population of 1.4 billion is a huge market for Kenya, not only for avocados, but also for other fresh produce such as mangoes and bananas,” said Dr Wilfred Marube, Managing Director of the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency.
This journey began in 2018 when China hosted the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.
Kenya’s high-level delegation to the CIIE was led by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta and saw the signing of various key MoUs, including the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Protocol.
This protocol seeks to grant market access to thirteen (13) priority agricultural products to be expedited for export clearance.
Products include avocados, green beans, legumes, flowers, vegetables and fruits, herbs, mangoes, peanuts, meat, hides and skins, bixa, macadamia nuts, gum arabic and myrtle and Asian vegetables (chilli and karella).
As part of the implementation process, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) and Kenya Phytosanitary Inspection Services (KePHIS) assisted Chinese phytosanitary inspectors to visit Kenya and undertake risk analysis (PRA) on avocados from Kenya, in March 2019.
Unfortunately, Kenya was unable to meet the requirements for exporting fresh avocados to China at the time.
Inspectors were however taken to a company in Naivasha to assess a frozen avocado processing unit which achieved a positive rate of compliance with set standards.
It was during this period that Kenya gained market access for its frozen avocados, making it the first country in Africa to export frozen avocados to China.
“Since then, our government institutions with their Chinese counterparts have organized various engagements and sensitization programs or exporters as well as fresh produce farmers in Kenya with the aim of raising awareness of the need to comply with the requirements set by China for the fresh produce exports from Kenya to this market,” said Ambassador Muthomi Gichohi.
In this regard, about ten companies have complied with the established standards and have been authorized to export fresh avocados to the Republic of China. Both countries look forward to more collaborations and more companies/companies complying with established standards.
“It’s a big win for Kenya. China has the potential to drive Kenya’s economic growth from a single avocado export.
Factor endowment favors Kenya. With the large population, exports to China will further increase foreign exchange earnings as well as employment for young people and women,” Dr. Marube said, adding:
“Despite its huge population, China only imports 1% of the world’s avocados, hence a huge export market for Kenya if we can popularize Kenyan avocados in China. Many livelihoods will be improved by encouraging production to satisfy this market.
According to the 2021 export performance report, the top five global avocado importers are the United States of America, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Germany.
The main avocado exporting countries are Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain and Chile.
Kenya is currently the world’s 6th largest producer of avocados and Africa’s largest producer of avocados, mostly grown by smallholder farmers.
Exporting avocados to the Chinese market has huge potential and experts have estimated that exports to China could account for up to 40% of Kenya’s total avocado production.
The market opportunity is also very important since almost 3 to 400 tons can be shipped to China every week.
In 2021, Kenya’s exports to China amounted to USD 199.6 million while imports from China amounted to USD 4 billion.
The trade balance remains strongly skewed in favor of China.
Opening up avocado exports to the Chinese market will significantly improve the incomes of local smallholder farmers in Kenya and increase Kenya’s foreign exchange earnings while addressing the current trade imbalance.
This breakthrough will also strengthen the opening of exports to China of other quality agricultural products from Kenya, as negotiated in the SPS protocol signed in 2018. Kenya aims to increase the visibility of its brand in this dynamic Chinese market which has enormous potential given its large population of around 1.4 billion people.