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Kenyan avocados running a month late

"Kenya: "Buyers must look for GlobalGap certified exporters"

Kenyan avocado exports to Europe have had some bad press recently, but Anton Bothma from Eagle Fruit, which has offices in South Africa and Egypt as well as Kenya, has stated that although there are some people who will send below standard avocados to Europe, this is not the case for for all exporters.

The Kenyan avocado season is running around a month behind, due to the drought conditions. The fruit is also smaller. However rain is predicted this week in the growing regions and Anton is counting on this to improve the sizes.

"Rain is on the way, in fact it has already started raining in the western side of the avocado growing areas," explains Anton. "Once it rains in the central region the avocados will grow one size up every 7 days."

Kenya is situated on the Equator and enjoys more than one seasonal crop. Last year Eagle Fruit exported 78 containers to Europe and sent 534 tonnes by air. Normally Kenyan avocados would enjoy a small window in April before the Peruvian avocados arrive in Europe, but this season harvest won't start until the end of March. According to Anton however, people still want the Kenyan fruit as it is around two Euros cheaper than either the Israeli or Peruvian avocados.

"Last year was disastrous for many Kenyan packers as, physiologically, the fruit looked good at the time of packing, but arrived in a poor condition. In addition a few pack houses and cold stores were not up to standard which added to the quality problems. Since then three modern pack houses have been built, while others have upgraded their facilities."

"Unfortunately some informal traders in Kenya pick old and new crops together and arrivals in Europe are of mixed maturities. This gives Kenya a bad name so importers are advised to order only from reputable and registered packers that are Global Gap certified," said Anton. "I can understand why informal traders exploit the situation - they do not have money to send their children to school and will do anything to get an income."

Registered packers will wait a few days for the oil content to go up and also have better dry matter, according to Anton. With the rain on the way, farmers are positive and determined to ensure that this year will see good quality arrivals.

"Packers now follow strict European standards by wearing protective clothing to ensure hygiene is of paramount importance and pack houses comply with the requirements of European supermarket guidelines," assures Anton. "All that is needed now is some rain in the production area and we will be ready to supply Europe with a good product."

Anton Bothma
Eagle Fruit Alliance Ltd
Tel: +27 (0) 82 820 3707
Skype: antonbothmalt

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