Fruit Trade in Africa

Fruit Trade in Africa

Ongoing consumer demand for new fruits and vegetables in African countries has contributed to an increase in trade volume of fresh produce in developing countries (Uniafrica). This, in turn, has promoted the growth of small farms and the addition of new products, creating more rural and urban jobs and reduced the disparities in income levels among farms of different sizes. As countries who demand fresh fruit and vegetables become wealthier, their demand for high-valued commodities increases.

Advances in shipping and storage technologies have expanded the possibility for trade in both seasonal and tropical fruits and vegetables in Africa. Many African countries enjoy growing conditions favourable for the production of one or more of these crops, and most enjoy preferential access to EU markets (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Nevertheless, there are several factors which limit the ability of African producers to participate efficiently in these markets. Geographical factors play an important role in shaping trade patterns, especially for the most perishable products. Access to port facilities or direct air links, the distance between producing regions and sea and air port facilities, the availability, nature of internal transportation and storage facilities, are all important in determining what fruits and vegetables can be exported by a given country.

Markets for off-season fruits and vegetables, and for tropical fruits, seem to be expanding. Nevertheless, African fruit and vegetable producers are faced with increasing competition due to the following factors:

Maritime Shipping:

In order to remain competitive in the fruits and vegetable trade, maritime shipping is a very important factor to consider. As a result, exporters of products for which the use of sea freight is practicable will probably have increased their use of maritime shipping. Maritime shipping tend to take longer time of processing compared to air fright because of many circumstances like availability of vessels to convey the fruits and vegetable to its destination, pirate attack, custom clearance etc.

Air freight:

Certain products, such as fresh French beans, have a limited shelf life and must be shipped via air freight. In some cases the loss of value from a twelve hour delay can be as high as 50 to 60 percent (Fresh Plaza). Land-locked producers are often forced to use air freight even for commodities which could be safely shipped by surface, due to a lack of appropriate and cost effective surface transport. Air transport itself is smooth and fast, but cargo handling and airport storage facilities can create problems.

Internal Transport:

Transport from the area of production to the point of embarkation can be as important as the leg between there and final markets, in terms both of cost and maintaining the value of the commodities. The limited development of internal transportation networks in many African countries tends to limit the area from which fresh commodities can be brought together for export.

Storage Facilities

The availability of suitable storage facilities is important. Transportation of fruit is sometimes an inherently “lumpy” process at both the internal and international levels. Most fruit and vegetable commodities must be stored under appropriate conditions, if they are not to suffer a decline in quality and value.

Communication and Services

The availability of specialised services, including freight forwarders and the distribution chain, can be a limiting factor in developing horticultural exports. Delays or improper handling at any point can greatly reduce the value of the commodities. Communications services, including online market information systems, are also important in some cases.

Product Quality and Homogeneity

Grading and quality control (including health regulations) have become an increasingly important element in competition in the export markets for fruits and vegetables, and can represent significant non-tariff barriers. In many African countries, the lack of large scale fruit orchards has been a barrier to increased exports of fruit and fruit products, because of difficulties in providing a product of predictable and uniform quality.

Countries trying to develop new fruits and vegetable for export must try to identify niche markets which they can address, based on climate, seasonality or cost factors. At early stages investments should focus on infrastructure (e.g. internal transportation) which could promote the efficiency of a wide variety of activities. Foreign investment can be useful in organising production and providing access to markets for mass consumption commodities. The Fruit and Vegetables markets can provide an entry for new or unusual fruit and vegetable products, and are able to handle smaller lots of commodities.



BRITINICA (Africa’s Fruit and Vegetable) –

CBI – MNISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – Fresh Fruit and Vegetables West Africa –

HOW WE MADE IT IN AFRICA – Fresh fruit and Vegetable for Africa –

FRESH PLAZA – Farm Fresh Direct & Origin Fruit: looking for opportunities in Africa-


THE CONVERSATION – South Africa is missing out on fresh fruit export growth. What it needs to do –




Trust is an under-researched dimension of international business, but it is essential to the growth of the export of fruit and vegetables (Gilmore-Latrobe University). Exporting fresh fruit and vegetables requires individuals to ensure reasonable levels of food health and consistency. Apart from consistency, social and environmental behaviour is now a requirement for exporting fresh fruits and vegetables, and buyers also ask for certification as a guarantee.

Understanding how to create confidence with buyers is important to today’s fruit and vegetable market environment. Taking the extra mile to buyers at all times is the best way to create consumer loyalty and a dedicated customer base, and deliver them outstanding fruit and vegetables. In order to increase confidence in fruit and vegetable trade, the following requirements must be achieved.

Be honest and transparent

If you want to win the confidence of your buyer in fruit and vegetable trade, there are no shortcuts; you’re going to have to earn it. It is a perfect starting point to be open and truthful regarding the price and state of fruit and vegetables at the time and what potential customers may anticipate from you as exporters.

Share reviews

Reviews will help the customer build up a good and positive opinion of a fruit and vegetable exporter. 95 % of people state that feedback – whether favorable or derogatory – has an effect on their buying decisions. This is evident that the comments are already a major part of nearly any fruit and vegetable trade decision-making mechanism (International Trade Center).

Offer great customer service

The customer support offered by the fruit and vegetable exporter may have a significant effect on consumer satisfaction and loyalty. The goal is to provide customers with an effective, knowledgeable and pleasant experience.

Share best practices

It is a kind of action that may not really take a massive deal of time or money, but still provides a lot of additional value to customers. Exporters will be able to offer useful details to buyers who would no doubt value the sacrifices and experiences they have created and, in effect, raise trust in the fruit and vegetable trade.

Be contactable

The fruit and vegetable business reference website is the point of touch between the exporter and the buyer. It’s a smart idea for exporters to have as many means of communicating as possible: phone numbers, email address, social networking etc.

Limit use of pesticides

In order to reduce human and environmental threats, various countries have their own amounts of pesticide residues in trade of fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables carrying more pesticides than permitted would be removed from the market, thereby reducing the confidence in trade between the buyer and the exporter of that fruit and vegetables.

Avoiding contaminants

Contaminants are substances which have not been deliberately applied to fruit and vegetables but which may be found at various levels of processing, storage, transport or carrying. In addition to increasing confidence in fruit and vegetable exchange, exporters should also ensure that no pollutants are present in fruit and vegetables prior to loading and shipping.



CBI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS -What requirements should fresh fruit or vegetables comply with to be allowed on the European market? –

INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTRE – fruits and vegetables – 

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM -Five ways to increase trust in e-commerce

WYZOWL – 11 Ways to gain customer trust and boost sales –