Top 5 perishables with the fastest-growing demand for air cargo

During the current period of robust demand for air cargo services, one of the hottest types of commodities sold have come in the form of perishable goods. The exotic nature of some foods, plus a critically short shelf life, has made them the darlings of the airfreight world.

The intense appetite for these goods has led to new business opportunities for carriers and forwarders in some regions of the world that could be described as unexpected among the air cargo community. Here is a roundup of five such commodities and points of origin that have begun to turn heads:

Seafood from Scotland

Exports moving from Scotland to Asia have risen more than 400 percent since 2007, according to the industry group, Seafood Scotland. Among the types of seafood atop the list of goods are shellfish, salmon, whitefish and pelagic. Seafood now accounts for the largest rise – 26 percent, year-over-year – in ex-Scotland food shipments, said Natalie Bell, trade marketing manager for Europe, the Middle East and Asia at Seafood Scotland.  Last year was a record year for Scottish food and drink exports, reaching £5.5 billion – an 8 percent rise over 2015 and up 56 percent ahead of 2007. Of these totals, Scottish seafood accounted for about £759 million.

Smoked meat and wines from Australia

For wines, age is an asset – a rarity in the perishables community. But for vineyards and farms in Australia, a new direct route to Singapore by way of Canberra has shaved four days off the route that had been used most often, from Sydney to Singapore. The first shipment of local perishable produce – consisting of fresh bacon, smoked salmon and several types of wines – flew to Singapore in August via Singapore Airlines. The produce, travelling in refrigerated containers, was sent to international hotels, supermarkets and restaurants in Singapore.

Clotted cream from the U.K.

It’s no surprise that China has become a valuable consumer market for food from around the world, but some may not realize the growing connection between China and the United Kingdom, as Chinese consumers warm to the idea of the very British tradition of “afternoon tea.” According to a recent report from China Daily, items like clotted cream and scones – along with beer and meat – led to a 51 percent increase in British food and drink exports to China in 2016, making it the fastest-growing food market in the U.K. In just the first half of this year, U.K. food and drink exports to China grew by 35 percent, compared to the same period in 2016, values at approximately US$368 million.

Blueberries from Ukraine

Ukraine may be known best for borscht, pierogis and vodka, but one of the strongest commodities lately has been the humble blueberry. Exports of the little purple fruit reached record high in August 2017 and were 50 percent higher compared with the same month of the previous year, according to Fruit-Inform. Ukraine’s cumulative exports of blueberries the three-month period of June to August 2017 totaled 1,600 tons, an increase of about 33 percent, year-over-year. Most of Ukraine’s blueberry exports go to the Netherlands (up 19 percent, y-o-y, for the same period), Belarus (up 15 percent) and the U.K. (up 200 percent).

Medicinal plants from Afghanistan


Not every popular perishable commodity is edible. In an attempt to turn Afghanistan into an exporting country, President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated a new air corridor between Afghanistan and India in June, after relations had soured between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The first flight took off from Kabul, with an Afghan Airlines A330 carrying 60 tonnes of medicinal plants in its belly, bound for New Delhi. The value of the cargo was about US$11 million dollars, said the Hindustani Times. A second flight, from Kandahar to New Delhi, carried 40 tonnes of dried fruit later that same month. The plan, both governments said, is to increase frequencies to five flights per week between Kandahar and Kabul to New Delhi. The air corridor, the report said, will add a new dimension to the current $700 million worth of trade between the two nations.

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