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 –


Rethinking Supply Chain Visibility Challenge

Rethinking Supply Chain Visibility Challenge

Rethinking Supply Chain Visibility Challenge.

Together, CMA CGM GROUP (Official), PSA International, CEVA Logistics and PSA Cargo Solutions comprise some of the world’s largest and most forward-thinking businesses in shipping lines, container terminals and logistics service providers that move cargo across the world.

On February 17th, they jointy launched a challenge which saw the application from top tier startups from around the world. The challenge was titled Rethinking Supply Chain Visibility and the goal was to discover opportunities where businesses can make use of terminal, carrier and logistics service providers data to create new services & value propositions. They were interested in supply chain and logistics solutions to shippers beyond basic track & trace, and any solutions beyond the field of supply chain and logistics.

We took part in the challenge and are proud to announce we were shortlisted as one of the top 3 startups to go through to the next phase. 

We pitched our solution to a panel consisting of top managers from all of the companies and are now looking forward to the final results. 

Irrespective of which of the three startups wins, making this shortlist assures us that we have spotted a pain worth solving in the global logistics chain and we are firing on all cylinders to solve it.

May the best team win!

Impacts of COVID 19 on Shipping

Impacts of COVID 19 on Shipping

Impacts of COVID 19 on Shipping and International Trade industries are to be fully comprehended. So far, there is significant decline in all areas.

From delays due to congestions, container shortages, lack of truck drivers to outright cancellations. Everyone is feeling the burden.

Today we had a call from a customer from Europe who needed a surveyor in Benin in Africa. This was probably the most timely opportunity for us to demonstrate Ukeli use case. Using our mobile application, the cargo owner could document the stuffing process of the container in question and all collected information populated on our client dashboard in real time. 

While things have considerably slowed down, using a remote trusted digital surveyor could answer some of the most pressing challenges we have in the industry.

In the coming days and months, we will be looking at other use cases and we have container fires on our target.


Fruits and Data in Global Supply Chain

Fruits and Data in Global Supply Chain

Fruits and data in global supply chain is a regular topic in industry circles. Transportation of fruits from farm for fork requires orchestra-like coordination with very careful attention to time and temperature.

The journey starts at the orchard during harvest. Depending on how advanced the farm is, the harvest process can be quite manual. A quick glance on Instagram highlights some harvesting activities in farms in Australia.

After harvest, truck loads of fruit are transported to the pack house where they are prepped for shipment. From disinfecting to quality control and segmentation, highly sophisticated pack houses ensure that the fruits are packaged and shipped off to the right target markets. 

From the pack house, depending on the location of the cold store, it is road hauled to the cold store where the temperature is set as required. For cases such as fresh citrus, particular attention is paid to the pre cooling levels again depending on the country of destination.

Once the cargo is containerised and transported to the sea port for onward shipment, the grower loses all visibility of the produce. Up until recently, growers will hope and pray for the good outturn of their produce. Today, technology has advanced such that you can now be notified regularly on the location and temperature of your produce in transit.

At delivery, in the event of damage to cargo, there is always dispute as to who is responsible for the damage suffered. To answer this question, a combination of methods are used including the opinion of an expert fruit surveyor, tracking data, temp tales and the legal intepretation of expert lawyers or recovery agents.

Data is key here and how we collect and present this data going forward will inform stakeholders about quality and handling of the produce in question.