Logistics firm Mitchell Cotts Freight Kenya Limited has unveiled a modernized vacuum cooling facility at the landside of an air cargo terminal within the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The facility will enhance the preservation of horticultural exports to tame recurrent post-harvest losses.
The Sh30 million facility has been set up in partnership with logistic firms, Perishable Movements Kenya Limited and Fresh Handling Kenya Limited, and is designed to help exporters of perishable products like fresh flowers, herbs, and vegetables to extend the shelf life of their produce and comply with stringent quality requirements of international markets.
This is, in turn, expected to boost the country’s export earnings and increase the competitiveness of Kenya’s exports in the global fresh produce market.
With the installation of the vacuum cooler at the cargo terminal, Mitchell Cotts Group expects to help horticulture farmers maximize their profits, according to Daniel Tanui, who is the Managing Director at the logistics firm.
“The service is expected to improve the efficiency and reliability of fresh produce exports from Kenya to international markets and will be available to customers who book their cargo through either of our partners,” said Mr Tanui.
Silas Kashindi, the CEO of Perishable Movements Kenya Limited indicated that their firm has invested heavily in the development of the service and is confident that it will help to increase the quality of fresh produce exports from Kenya.
Innovative cooling solution
“The facility can cool up to 2,000 kilograms of fresh produce per hour, and is expected to help Kenyan horticulture exporters meet the growing demand for fresh produce exports in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” he said during the unveiling event.
Vacuum cooling is a fast and efficient way to cool down the temperature of the product quickly and evenly, helping to maintain the freshness and quality of the product, according to experts.
And leveraging the service will help to reduce spoilage and extend the product’s shelf life, making them ideal for export. Additionally, vacuum cooling service reduces the risk of contamination, which is especially important when exporting perishable goods.
“The vacuum cooler is an innovative cooling solution that rapidly cools freshly harvested produce, preserving its freshness. It will also help reduce waste, keeping produce fresher for longer,” said Esther Kabugi, the Head of Operations at Fresh Handling Kenya Limited, who was also at the launch.
The horticulture industry is one of the significant contributors to the Kenyan economy and employs over 1.2 million Kenyans.
The sector has been driven by increased demand for Kenyan produce in international markets, as well as the development of innovative technologies such as vacuum cooling and improved production and post-harvest management practices, which ensure that the products arrive in perfect condition, thus increasing demand and boosting exports.
Post-harvest losses in Kenya range from 10 to 50 percent, depending on the type of farm produce. The vacuum cooling service, therefore, spells good tidings for the sector.