Seehann Hails Fresh-To-Door Product

Together with hand-picked partners LH Cargo guarantees a seamless supply chain of perishables originating in East Africa destined for European consignees. The Fresh-To-Door service works extremely well, claims the airlines’ General Manager of East Africa Ivo Seehann.

Lufthansa Cargo’s Ivo Seehann  /  source: hs
Lufthansa Cargo’s Ivo Seehann / source: hs

Harvested, flown, and delivered. The Fresh-to-Door product offered by Lufthansa Cargo relies on a synchronized supply chain from origin to destination, set up by the carrier in cooperation with the Cool Chain Group (CCG) and a number of dedicated trucking companies.

According to findings published by the CCG, the sad truth is, however, that about 30% of worldwide harvested fresh products decay before they are marketed, due to incorrect handling, mistakes in transportation or storage. A massive loss of food and value happening constantly in many parts of the world, regrets the Cool Chain Group.

Choosing the right partners is key
“Nothing that we are really experiencing within the scope of our Fresh-To-Door services,” assures Ivo. The manager points out that it needs dedicated and technically well equipped partner companies to set up reliable door-to-door transport of perishables, beginning with cool rooms at the producer’s sites and thermo trucks for transporting the temperature sensitive goods to the cargo terminal at Nairobi airport. After arriving at Frankfurt-Main airport, handled at the Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF) and trucked to their final destinations, the supply chains ends at retail stores in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland or Germany.
Since December 2014 Lufthansa is also offering its Fresh Flowers customers a new Vacuum Cooler facility at Frankfurt Airport’s Perishable Center, which reduces temperatures and humidity.  “Many goods coming from production areas here in Kenya arrive at the consignee’s doors between 24 to 36h hours after they’ve been harvested,” assures manager Seehann. This short time-to-market improves the quality of the goods, prolongs their life and prevents them from deteriorating and ending up in the garbage bin instead of being properly consumed. 

Garments return to air freight
While speaking about exports flown out of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Ivo pointed out that in addition to flowers, vegetables and fish from nearby Lake Victoria, Kenya’s three leading products, garments are celebrating a comeback. “In the last few years ocean freight has captured a lot of this segment, snatching it away from air freight, piece by piece,” he notes.
Meanwhile, the tide seems to have turned shown by the increase in the volume of textiles made in East Africa, flown first to Europe and the majority to the USA. “At Lufthansa Cargo we are doing very well in this specific segment,” Ivo emphasizes. He admits, however, the combination of the current south- and northbound volumes are not sufficient to add a 5th frequency to the currently operated 4 weekly freighter flights to and from Nairobi.
Nevertheless Lufthansa Cargo will offer additional Cargo capacity to and from Kenya’s capital with the return of Lufthansa Passage flights from Frankfurt to Nairobi and back, starting 25th October 2015.

Washington vetoed U.S. flights
The local garment industry got an upward push after many accidents in Bangladesh happened, claiming a large number of casualties. “Believe it or not,” states Ivo, “the production standards in Kenya are considerably higher than those in Bangladesh. Also the fact that unions exist and working conditions are superior to those in Southeast Asia has resulted in an increasing international demand.”
In the case of textiles heading to the U.S. LH Cargo profits from the absence of nonstop flights between Kenya and North America. In 2010 Delta and Kenya Airways are two carriers that had applied for these intercontinental services but Washington’s TSA vetoed their plans because of security concerns. Therefore, the items are first flown to a European hub and transited there to the U.S. or Canada.

Back to Mauritius
During the interview with CargoForwarder Global, Mr. Seehann announced plans of Lufthansa and partnering Austrian Airlines to resume passenger services to Mauritius beginning in fall. From a cargo perspective Mauritius is known as a market offering large quantities of perishables, flowers and garments.
Ivo concluded his address by stressing that Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta urgently needs a further upgrade of its land- and airside infrastructure, e.g. a second runway to prevent traffic jams. The master plan for construction is ready but rests peacefully in the drawers of the ministry responsible for improving infrastructure. 
This brings to mind several amazingly similar plans for enlarging or technically updating airports in Europe.

Heiner Siegmund  /  Michael Taweel

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