Two South African fruit exporting companies, together with local Kenyan partners, recently opened the doors of a brand new cold storage facility in Kenya. The new facilities are worth US $1, 5 million and launched on Sunday, 22 October, 2023.

Fruitbox Ltd., a Kenyan importing and distribution company, was formed in 2014, owned by two South African companies, Vitanova International and Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, as well as Messrs. Sandip Jethalal and Bhaumik Shah, both with a long history in Kenya's fresh produce industry.

Fruitbox Ltd. is the exclusive importer of Tru-Cape in Kenya. These products include apples, pears, cherries, and soft citrus. Fruitbox also imports citrus and table grapes from Southern African countries and Egypt, as well as kiwi fruit from Europe and South America.

"While we previously leased cold storage, we had a need for more purpose-built infrastructure. We built our own cold storage facilities," says Nico de Lange, chairman of Fruitbox. Ltd. It has space for 800 pallets and seven loading docks and is exemplary of an integrated European approach to cold storage in terms of quality control, the handling of fruit, and feedback.

"In Kenya, we are the market leader in the way we handle and store our fruit. We classify all fruit on arrival and store it according to quality and shelf life. This ensures that stock is sold in optimum condition, with great shelf life and according to market conditions," explains Nico, adding that it is the exception rather than the rule in Africa.

Sandip Jethalal, general manager of Fruitbox, says they add value with a reporting system, "We send all data back to suppliers and maintain a very good cold chain. From the time of arrival to storage should not take longer than an hour."

Simon Cabral, director at Vitanova International, says it is part of their long-term strategy to assist Fruitbox Ltd. as an importer in East Africa. "Fruitbox's vision is to work hand in hand with suppliers and customers to provide a first-class service in this challenging sector."

It is located within the Tilisi development, about 30 km from Nairobi CBD and close to the A104 Nairobi-Nakuru Highway, enabling Fruitbox Ltd. to receive fruit entering the country via sea freight from Mombasa or air freight from Nairobi.

Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, said, "Our vision is to serve the Central East African market in a bigger, better, and more efficient way. Our management of the cold chain and the quality of our cold storage and product handling enables us to import and distribute more sensitive fruit types, broadening the product offering to the market."

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Lucille Botha