The refrigerated shipping industry and cold chain has reached a new milestone with the successful completion of first shipment of Ethiopian avocados to Europe and establishment of a cool logistics corridor in East Africa.
The shipment took place on the 22 August when the refrigerated (reefer) container carrying 24 tonnes of avocados was loaded onto the Ethio-Djibouti train from the terminal in Koga, Ethiopia, to a container terminal in Doralah, Djibouti, and then shipped to Europe.
The project is the result of a cooperation between the governments of Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Netherlands. According to a statement from the Djibouti Ports and Freezones Authority (DPFZA), it is the key step towards allowing the efficient transportation of cooled goods.
Chairman of DPFZA Aboubaker Omar Hadi said: “This innovative cool supply chain Modjo-Djibouti-Europe for fruits, vegetables, flowers and other perishables will balance the trade and maximize the use of Ethio-Djibouti railway.”
The Port of Rotterdam Authority, which also participated in the project, said the shipment will be followed by “many others” as the East African economy grows and European demand for products such as avocados increases.
The sector has huge growth potential according to Tewodros Zewdie, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer and Exporters Association.
“Fresh produce transport chains can be promoted by reducing transport costs and transport times,” Zewdie said.
“As a result, in ten years’ time we will be able to fill an entire train’s worth of reefer containers every week – and later even step up this frequency to five trains of temperature-controlled produce per week.”
Global reefer shipping, or the cold chain, has grown in importance as consumer habits across Europe and North America change to demand more plant-based products from South America and Africa. Growth has always been driven by Chinese imports of meat.