Crazy for coconuts

Hapag-Lloyd is seriously determined to boost its position in the African market. And one sign of its success so far is its absolute dominance of the market for coconut exports from Ghana.

As part of our Strategy 2023, Hapag-Lloyd aims to expand its position in promising new markets. And with its new services, new offices, the expected acquisition of the Africa specialist carrier NileDutch and a QSC in Mauritius, you can see that its focus on Africa is definitely no joke. One example of the successful results involves coconuts from the West African country of Ghana.

The tropical rain forests of this West African country provide unbeatable climatic conditions for growing coconuts. In 2017, the country produced about 229 million individual coconuts, which together would weigh between 350,000 and 400,000 metric tonnes. Although most of coconuts grown there are consumed domestically, the country’s government has launched several measures to increase production as well as exports to meet growing international demand for coconuts. For example, the government is providing farmers with seedings that mature more quickly, are disease-resistant and result in high-quality fruits (Yes, coconuts are a fruit! And a nut! And a seed!).

Our first coconut customer in Ghana was Coconut Drive Ghana LTD, which gets its coconuts from local growers on mostly smallholder plantations who usually harvest their coconuts by hand. The company’s roughly 30 employees then do everything needed to get the coconuts ready for export, such as cleaning, weighing, bagging and stuffing them into reefer containers that are then transported to the port in Tema. From there, vessels operating in our weekly West Africa Express (WAX) service pick up the coconuts and start them on their journey to Caucedo, Dominican Republic, for processing and consumption. At the moment, the company is exporting roughly three 40-foot reefers full of coconuts – or about 112 tonnes – each week. And they are clearly very pleased with our service. “Hapag-Lloyd is a great partner to have,” says Samuel Atogchiga Kopamba, the company’s CEO. “They make you feel like part of a family – and one whose members take care of each other.”

Hapag-Lloyd has come to dominate the shipment of coconuts out of Ghana since teaming up with Coconut Drive Ghana in the fourth quarter of 2019. In the meantime, our local customer base has grown to four companies. In 2020, we shipped 312 TEU of coconuts out of Ghana, mainly to Caucedo. And, in just the first quarter of 2021, we shipped 206 TEU, which represents a year-on-year increase of 125 percent. In fact, Hapag-Lloyd has been the most preferred carrier for coconut exports from Ghana, and controls a very high percentage of the market.

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