This year is shaping up to one of the strongest Kenyan avocado export campaigns in history, as growing demand looks set to more than double shipments to Europe when compared with 2012.

Last year, the country exported some 17,200 tonnes of avocados, according to the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), with 90 per cent of volumes heading to European markets.

Stephen Mbithi (pictured), chief executive officer of FPEAK, explained that over 20,000 tonnes of avocados has been exported during the opening six months of the year – the Netherlands proving the leading importer – with a further 20,000 tonnes forecast to be shipped before the end of 2013.

Stephen Mbithi FPEAK Kenya'The reason avocados sell like hotcakes in Europe is not simply down to consumption, but is also due to great demand from the cosmetic industry,' Mbithi explained. 'Avocados are also processed into cooking oil which is sold in various supermarket chains in western Europe.'

Argentina and Peru represent two of Kenya's main competitors in the European avocado industry. The grocery retail industry takes on the majority of the fruit, 67 per cent of the total, with the European restaurant industry taking on 15 per cent of total imports.

“Avocados, mangoes and pineapples are the most popular exotic fruits in Europe, and people are making good money exporting these three products in particular,'Mbithi noted. 'Exports of Kenyan avocados to the UK have also shown great progress, with a growth rate of 7 per cent last year.'