Negotiating the precarious rural roads and potentially dangerous mountainous topography of the South African neighboring country was all part of the challenge for the partners involved in delivering a landmark avocado consignment.
Facilitating the navigation and safe maneuvering of a fully loaded reefer shipping container over Swaziland’s steep and craggy terrain, fresh produce company Halls, LCL Logistics and grower partner Hill Estate joined forces to pull off the demanding avocado journey.
The companies worked together to overcome the difficulties of accessing Hill Estate’s recently relocated packhouse.
The facility is located on a farm in an extremely remote area of the southern district of Shiselweni, one of the most underdeveloped regions of landlocked Swaziland.
Supply chain partners, LCL Logistics, was called in to help with advising on road upgrades and repairs to make the journey smoother and safer.
Thanks to the pulling together of resources, rural roads were rebuilt so that the export journey from Swaziland to the U.K. was made possible.
Leigh Green from Halls tells Fresh Fruit Portal how this will be a weekly voyage for the next few weeks as the season comes to an end but will take off again in around May when next year’s export campaign begins.
“Halls imports the fruit and then it goes onto Fresh Service in the U.K. This is how we are operating all of the containers out of Swaziland now and it will be going on for as long as the season lasts,” she says.
“This is truly remarkable and has never been done before in Swaziland because of the challenges they face there, so this is the first-ever container to be exported door-to-door from Swaziland to the UK and that will be the normal route going forward.
“Nobody else has been able to achieve this and we are very proud to be involved. The rural roads leading to the packhouse had to be upgraded to be able to transport the avocados. The topography is extremely challenging.”
A mixture of green-skinned and Hass will be delivered from the remote packhouse, eventually hitting U.K. retailers.
“The journey will be made weekly for the time being and when the season comes to an end soon, this route will be in place for next season as well.”
Halls – which specializes in sub-tropical fresh produce, with a focus on avocado – is located on the outskirts of Nelspruit, in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Green also says this is a good example of how the company goes “beyond the standard parameters” to support its grower partners.
She adds the result is fresher avocados now arriving into Europe from Swaziland because of improved cold chain management and a more cost effective, direct route to market.
“With over 125 years’ experience in the fresh produce industry, we appreciate the role we can play in supporting our grower partners with all aspects of their business. This is part of our ongoing service to them and the many challenges presented by Hill Estate were fascinating – we jumped at the opportunity to help,” Halls commercial director Craig Lewis says.
“The successful arrival of this door-to-door avocado shipment in Europe is a first for us in Swaziland,” adds David Meyer from Hill Estate.
“The commitment and support received from Halls and LCL was the key to achieving this milestone and I am grateful to everyone involved.”