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Report: UK’s major seasons and events this year led to increased imports of raspberries from Kenya


A cargo report released last month by the airline, British Airways, shows that the royal wedding, summer holidays, as well as the heat wave experienced in the UK this year, led to an increase in imports of raspberries from Kenya due to an increase in demand.

The cargo data which was extracted from the airline’s sister company, IAG Cargo, the cargo handling division of International Airlines Group from January 1 – July 29, 2018 also indicates an increase in imports of vegetables such as lettuce from the US.

“British Airways operates 800 flights every day globally, therefore, it takes a lot of planning from loading cargo to wine, to sanitary products and first aid kits. So far, the most interesting shipments have included cognac from Bordeaux, France to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, emergency lettuce from Los Angeles, US and raspbwrries from Nairobii, Kenya to the UK due to the produce shortage caused by the heatwave,” said Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience.

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Indeed, during the heatwave and summer period experienced between June and August, some areas in England experience no rain for more than 50 days with temperatures hitting as high as 25C, thus crops stop growing or even dry on the farm. For instance, lettuce cannot grow in such high temperatures.

In this, in order to meet the rise in demand during the period this year, wholesalers were forced to import the produce. In one week for example, IAG Cargo reported importing 30,000 heads of lettuce from Los Angeles to the UK, after demand increased by 40 per cent.

Raspberries, on the other hand, are not heat tolerant and will dry on the farm before their maturity period.

“So far in 2018, 26 per cent of cargo transported consisted of four per cent perishable produce such as raspberries from Kenya,” reported British Airways.

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The Kenya Horticulture Exporters (KHE) transports at least 22 tonnes a day of fresh produce from raspberries to tender stem broccoli through IAG Cargo. The shelf life of these products is four-five days; immediately after harvesting, they are transported to the airport, where they are prepared for delivery by storing in cold facilities to maintain their freshness. Every year, the KHE exports 7500 tonnes of perishables via IAG Cargo.

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