With COVID-19 that led to the suspension international passenger aviation, the supply chain for food products was at risk for disruption. Leading airlines such as Emirates SkyCargo worked very quickly to restore its international cargo connectivity, growing its network from just around 35 destinations on its freighter aircraft at the end of March to more than 130 destinations by early October on its freighters as well as passenger aircrafts. Currently, around 500 tonnes of food items are transported every day in the cargo hold of Emirates aircraft across the world.
The cargo mix
When Emirates SkyCargo’s first freighter flight from Guadalajara, Mexico took off on October 02, the cargo hold contained several tonnes of avocadoes and other vegetables grown and harvested in Mexico and destined for supermarket shelves in Europe and the Middle East.
In Kenya, Emirates’ 10 weekly flights in October 2020 from Nairobi Airport transported fresh fruits and vegetables such as green beans, pineapples, mangoes and avocadoes, among other commodities. The produce arrives in Dubai and then gets distributed to other regional markets in the Middle East and onwards to Europe.
Emirates’ flights taking off from Australia and New Zealand carry meat and a range of fruits including grapes and watermelons heading towards international markets.
Coconuts and jackfruit from Thailand, mangoes from India, sweet potatoes from Egypt, blueberries from the UK, cheese from France and Italy, salmon from Norway, cherries from Chile, seafood from Pakistan, bakery products from the Netherlands and tropical fruits from Vietnam are just a limited selection of the food items that travel every day on Emirates’ flights across its global network of more than 130 destinations across six continents.
With every new destination, Emirates SkyCargo opens up one more potential trade lane for food products across the world. As an example, Emirates SkyCargo, through its direct flights, helped create a market for tropical fruits from Vietnam in the Middle East and exports of these products increased nearly five-fold in just one year in 2017.
Consumers across the world have integrated international ingredients and produce into their daily diets for taste and nutritional reasons. Members of international diaspora also look for comfort food offerings from their home countries in supermarket shelves. With Emirates SkyCargo’s global network and flight schedule, food items from diverse origins retain their freshness as they are rapidly transported to their final destinations and the dining tables of consumers.
The growth of export markets over the last decade has also provided a boost to farming communities and agriculture in the various production markets. Emirates SkyCargo’s flights provide a quick and direct connection for farmers and exporters of food items to their international end customers, thereby supporting their livelihoods and the local economy.
Managing capacity amid the crisis
As a socially responsible carrier, Emirates SkyCargo has ensured that adequate cargo capacity remains available on its widebody aircraft during the COVID-19 pandemic for the transport of urgent medical supplies as well as food items. By doing this, the air cargo carrier is able to help countries and supermarkets maintain their food supplies and at the same time help farmers reliant on food exports continue to make their livelihoods in these challenging times.