Mangoes from Kenya to the Middle East face strong competition from Egyptian products due to the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar compared to the high costs that Kenyan exporters have to bear.
Egypt’s proximity to countries in the Middle East, where Kenya currently exports the bulk of its mangoes, benefits from a low cost of exporting the commodity with one kilo going to Sh32 per ship compared to a Kenyan exporter who must part with Sh108 for the same quantity.
Egypt has the advantage of the sea, which makes the cost less expensive, compared to Kenya which has to export by air so that the fruit arrives when it is still fresh.
“The transport costs are quite expensive, and for the Middle East by air we pay a dollar a kilo, unlike Egypt which spends 30 cents on exports by sea, which makes our products expensive,” he said. said Japheth Mbandi, technical director KEITs Exporters, a local exporting company.
Mango exports from Kenya to Mombasa by sea take at least eight days to arrive, making it difficult to ship through Mombasa port due to the long duration. Almost 90 percent of Kenyan fruit is exported by air, making it expensive in the Middle East.
Mr Mbandi said the cost of shipping to Europe would be even higher by air, and it can range from $ 1 to $ 2 per kilo, but the prices may be lower if the mangoes can be exported by sea. with one kilogram exported at 80 Sh.
However, he said, to reach the European market by sea, Kenya needs to switch to varieties that have a longer shelf life than what most farmers are currently planting.
“To make the European market by sea, we have to change our varieties to Keit and Kent, which can endure long days like we can in Europe for 28 days and the Middle East for 10 days, but the shelf life of the apple mango, which is commonly cultivated by farmers in Kenya, is short between 10 and 14 days. A variety like Kent can last up to 35 days, ”he said.
Kenya is expected to take over the European mango market in September. The emergence of the fruit fly in Kenya led to numerous shipments by the EU authority between 2010 and 2014. As a result, Kenya imposed a temporary self-export ban to protect the market and put acceptable pest control measures in place.
Stakeholders argue that the European market would give them a major boost, given that Europe’s revenues are 20% higher than those of Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries. -East.
The country is one of the main exporters of fresh produce to the world market, with Europe accounting for the largest share of total exports.
Kenya’s main exports include flowers, where the country supplies more than 60 percent of the roses to the European market.