Kenya produces an estimated 115,000 metric tons of avocado annually, 70 percent of which is grown by small-scale farmers.
Some years back, most of the avocados were sold in local markets, but this has drastically changed today, where three-quarters of the avocado fruit grown is exported to other countries.
Kenyan avocado exports have recorded a 10 percent increase annually for the last few years. These exports to the European market have doubled from 2012 to 2016.
This upward trend is driven by the consumer demand for ready-to-eat and healthy food. It creates opportunities for producers and exporters, especially for the Hass avocado variety, although competition is increasing.
The main varieties of avocado grown in Kenya are Hass (20 percent) and Fuerte (80 percent) for the export market and Pueble, Duke and G6 for the domestic market.
Kenya is the second largest African exporter of avocado after South Africa. Despite ranking second on the continent, Kenya has the potential to overhaul South Africa to become one of the top five exporters in the world.
Kenya’s main competitors on the European market are South Africa, Israel, and Spain. France is the main avocado importer, which takes 39 percent of total imported volume, U.S.A (10 percent), U.K (6.5 percent), Belgium (6.5 percent), and the rest of the world (38 percent). Japan is the main importer in Asia.
According to Keitt Exporters Ltd Managing Director Asif Amin, the demand for Kenyan avocados has been on an upward trend for the last three years as exporters, as well as growers, have done their best in meeting the international market standards.
Kenya’s dried avocado export has been rising, with the country selling 46.7 tons to the international market in 2016.
The figure was higher by 7.8 tons than what was exported in 2015. Kenya earned 6.5 billion shillings and 5.2 billion shillings in 2016 and 2015 respectively, according to the Kenya national bureau of Statistics.
Avocado cultivation is concentrated in the highlands between 1,200 and 1,800m above sea level. Central Province produces 38.9 percent, Eastern 12 percent, Western 6 percent, Rift Valley 8 percent, Nyanza 34 percent and Coast 1 percent and Nairobi Province 0.1 percent.
In January, Kenya banned the export of avocado to other countries following an acute shortage of the same.