Kenyan avocado exporters have enjoyed a presence on the Gulf market for many years, but various challenges continue to restrict their success.
“People don’t really know the Hass variety on this market, so we focus on the Fuerte,” says Winnie Ngubwa of Sasini Avocado. “Consumers want the biggest size they can find, and that is Fuerte, so they are accustomed to this variety. With the Hass, consumers think that the fruit has gone bad because of its different skin colour.”
Francis Mureithi of exporter Wintechs says that his company has sent to the Gulf for the last ten years.
“The market has changed a lot, but not to our advantage,” he says. “There are so many exporters, but production is not increasing. So we are planting more hectares of avocados, both Fuerte and Hass.”
The company is based near Nairobi for logistical reasons, making it easy to transport the produce to the port of Mombasa.
“It takes two weeks to reach Dubai,” says Mureithi. “However, the cost of seafreight from East Africa is very high. Sometimes containers are left at the port waiting seven days for a vessel to arrive. This means that the fruit has to be sold much quicker at the destination. Sometimes, vessels arrive in Mombasa earlier than arranged and leave earlier, leaving fruit without a means to reach the market. This should never happen. The shippers must stick to their arranged times.”