KENYA – Kenya has witnessed an exponential leap in avocado exports to China, recording a nearly tenfold increase in 2023, just a year after initiating exports to the Asian giant.

Data from Chinese authorities reveals that the country imported a substantial 4,324.1 tons of Kenyan avocados in 2023, a significant surge compared to the 443.6 tons recorded in 2022.

Philip Mutooni, Chief Executive of the Avocado Exporters Association of Kenya, acknowledged the European Union’s (EU) continued status as the primary market for Kenyan avocados.

However, he emphasized the pivotal role played by the burgeoning Chinese market, stating, “The EU is our biggest market and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. However, besides China, we are also looking into growing sales in other markets such as India and Saudi Arabia.”

Kenya embarked on avocado exports to China in August 2022, extending access to its fresh produce to the massive population of over 1.4 billion people.

In comparison, the EU, still the largest buyer of Kenyan avocados, comprises approximately 448 million people across its 27 member states.

Securing approval to commence avocado exports to China was a prolonged process, marked by the requirement to ship frozen fruits instead of fresh ones.

Logistics challenges and a lack of necessary infrastructure further delayed access to the Chinese market, despite the agreement between Kenya and China being established in 2019.

However, the Kenyan avocados face formidable competition from major exporters like Mexico and Peru.

Kakuzi, in its half-year results to June 2023, highlighted the challenges faced by international Hass markets as Peru entered both the Chinese and European markets with substantial avocado volumes.

While Kenya currently ranks as the fifth-largest avocado exporter globally, following Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, the quality of its produce becomes a critical differentiator.

To establish dominance in the Chinese market, maintaining the export of only high-quality fruit that ripens correctly is deemed imperative.

In a significant diversification move, Kenya marked its entry into the Indian market with the first shipment of avocados in September of the previous year, following eight years of negotiations.

This move aligns with Kenya’s strategy to boost foreign exchange earnings and enhance the livelihoods of local farmers.

The impact of these endeavors is evident in the noteworthy growth of Kenya’s fruit export earnings, reaching Sh32.37 billion (USD 210.9 million) in 2023, a substantial increase from Sh19.7 billion (USD 6.52 million) in 2022, as reported by the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD).

The global avocado market is experiencing robust growth, with projections indicating an increase from USD 22.69 billion in 2024 to USD 35.55 billion by 2029.

Kenya’s avocado industry is on an accelerated trajectory, with exports doubling in just five years, and plans to expand the planted area by approximately 1,500 hectares annually over the next five years

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