Fresh Kenyan Avocados Receive Long-Awaited China Market Access 2022
After a yearslong process full of fits and starts, fresh avocados from Kenya appear to have finally gained market access to China. According to a Chinese-language announcement published by the General Administration of Customs of China, as of June 1 all avocados from Kenya that meet the phytosanitary protocols agreed upon by the two countries may now be exported to China.
Fresh Kenyan avocados had previously been expected to gain access to China in 2019, but the GACC ultimately only granted permission to frozen avocados owing to concerns over the prevalence of fruit flies in Africa and the ability of an industry in which smallholder farms predominate to manage this pest threat. Most producers either did not have the capacity to meet the standards for frozen avocados set forth by China or did not want to invest in creating the product; only one container of frozen avocados was exported from Kenya to China in 2020.
While the opening of China to fresh Kenyan avocados is a welcome development, growers and packhouses will still need to clear several hurdles for their fruit to meet the stipulated requirements and qualify for export. It thus remains to be seen how important of a market China will become for Kenya, Africa’s largest avocado producer in terms of volume.
First and foremost, the protocols state that only Hass avocados can be exported to China. Furthermore, only avocados originating from orchards and packhouses registered with and approved by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and GACC qualify. Orchards must demonstrate they are following good agricultural practices and have an integrated pest management plan in place to eliminate nine pests of concern laid out in the protocols. These pests include three types of fruit fly: the Mediterranean fruit fly, the mango fruit fly and the Natal fruit fly.
Fresh avocados exported from Kenya to China must also be fumigated with methyl bromide under the supervision of KEPHIS. A series of other requirements are in place regarding the processing, cleaning and storage of avocados bound for China.
Kenya is Africa’s largest producer and exporter of avocados, which account for nearly half of the country’s total fruit exports, with an avocado season that runs from mid-February to November. In 2021, Kenya exported 84,000 tons of avocados, with major export destinations including the United Arab Emirates, Finland and France.