Covid-19: How Emirates SkyCargo is helping maintain the global food supply chain

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When Emirates SkyCargo’s first freighter flight took off from Guadalajara, Mexico, on October 2, 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, the airline's 10 weekly flights in October 2020 from Nairobi airport transport, among other commodities, fresh fruits and vegetables such as green beans, pineapples, mangoes and avocadoes. The produce arrives in Dubai and then gets distributed to other regional markets in the Middle East and onwards to Europe. There are also flights taking off from Australia and New Zealand that carry meat and a range of fruits including grapes and watermelons heading towards international markets.

The airline is quite busy as it transports other food items across the world too. 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 that travel every day on Emirates’ flights across its 130 destinations in six continents.

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 flight schedule, food items from diverse origins are able to 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 has managed to 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.

With every new destination, Emirates SkyCargo also 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.

With Covid-19 and the disruption to international passenger aviation, the supply chain for food products was put into risk of disruption. However, the airline 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 freighter as well as passenger aircraft. Currently around 500 tonnes of food items are transported every day in the cargo hold of Emirates aircraft across the world.

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.

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