Nearly a third of what the farmers grow in Africa is lost due to lack of refrigeration, poor market access and other related factors. Annual food losses for fruits and vegetables are an estimated 40 to 50 percent. But things are changing – with new partnerships, technologies, government efforts and better cold chain infrastructure, temperature-controlled supply chains are on the mend in Africa.
The most critical factor to keeping food and meat fresh is proper transportation and cold storage. Despite this, the cold chain system is still weak or nonexistent in some countries.
Consistent refrigerated transportation instability is at the core of why cold chain logistics in Sub-Saharan Africa is nine times more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
However, there has been some progress with countries like Kenya slowly addressing the many challenges due to a stilldeveloping infrastructure. Traditionally, the key driver of these countries’ cold chain has been the fresh cut flower export industry, where Kenya and Ethiopia are positioned as one of the biggest exporters to the European Union (EU).
The Kenyan flower industries have created a strong strategic sector with advanced cold chain systems. However, the cold chain for other temperature-controlled foods, such as fruit and vegetables, has not yet advanced to the same level. Meanwhile, Kenya Airways Cargo is expanding its cool chain facility to deal with the extra demand during peak seasons, in addition to expanding its warehouse.
It has also launched flights to John F Kennedy Airport in New York to enable access for Kenyan flowers to Miami, Toronto and Vancouver in North America.
Today, Kenya exports flowers to over 60 destinations with more diverse opportunities available in the US, Japan, India, China, Canada, Australia, and Eastern Europe, according to the Horticultural Crops Directorate statistics.