KENYA – Mitchell Cotts, a Kenyan-based logistic firm,  has officially unveiled the country’s first organized vacuum cooling service that could push up fresh produce exports.

The firm said the facility located at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is designed to aid Kenyan exporters of perishable products like fresh flowers, herbs, and vegetables cut losses by extending the shelf life of their produce.

According to Mitchell Cotts, the equipment can cool up to 2,000 kilograms of fresh produce per hour and is expected to help Kenyan horticulture exporters meet the burgeoning demand for fresh produce exports in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

In addition, the vacuum cooling service, which has been set up in partnership with logistic firms Perishable Movements Kenya Limited and Fresh Handling Kenya Limited, is also expected to boost the country’s horticulture export competitiveness in the global fresh produce market and help exporters comply with stringent quality requirements of international markets.

Mitchell Cotts Managing Director Group Daniel Tanui said: “Overall, with the installation of the vacuum cooler at our cargo terminal, we are confident it will help horticulture farmers maximize their profits.”

“The service is expected to improve the efficiency and reliability of fresh produce exports from Kenya to international markets and will be available to customers who book their cargo through either of our partners.”

On his part, Perishable Movements Kenya Limited CEO, Silas Kashindi said that they have invested heavily in the development of the service and are confident that it will help to increase the quality of fresh produce exports by reducing the risk of contamination, which is especially important when exporting perishable goods.

The horticulture industry is one of the significant contributors to the Kenyan economy and employs over 1.2 million Kenyans.

Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that income from domestic exports of horticultural products declined by 6.7pc to Ksh 34.5 billion in the third quarter of 2022 compared with the corresponding quarter of 2021.

With the development of innovative technologies such as vacuum cooling and improved production and post-harvest management practices, the country will surely overhaul the small returns from the segment.

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