Okra commonly called ladys finger because of the resemblance to finger is an exotic vegetable in Europe and is consumed mostly by people of African, Caribbean and Asian origin.
Okra is expected to become more mainstream, providing opportunities for exporters from developing countries.
Fresh okra can be kept fresh only a couple of days. Okra seeds can be used for making edible oil.
Okra is shipped to the EU by air.
The minimum requirements of export products should be:
* Intact, clean and sound,
* Free from pests, damage.
* Free from abnormal external moisture.
* Free from internal browning, and
* In a condition to withstand transport and handling.
Due to the rapid rate of growth and development, okra should be harvested every one to two days to ensure the size
Okra should not be harvested in the rain or when excessively wet, and should be handled with care.
Due to the perishable nature of okra, harvesting must take place on the day of, or on the day preceding shipment.
Oversize and damage crops are to be removed in order to meet the highest quality classes.
Okra products should be harvest between 40 to 115 mm in length, green, and tender and readily snap at the tip.
is determined by the length of the okra (in mm. without peduncle) in accordance with the following table:
Okra is highly perishable but with optimum post-harvest handling systems (cold chain), quality is maintained for four to seven days.
Okra is to be packed in a way that properly protects the product.
Sacks or bags are not to be used as these incur damage and cause heat build-up. Packages must be free of all foreign matter.
Net weights are dependent on the importers’ requirements and vary from 3.5 to 5 kg, sometimes up 6-7kg (8 to 10lb, or 15lb).
The usual packing is 4-5 kg cartons with ventilation holes to prevent overheating, because okra exhibits exceedingly high rates of respirations, which generates a large production of heat and results in rapid deterioration.
Each package must bear the following particulars, in letters grouped on the same side, legibly and indelibly marked, and visible from the outside:
A. Information about the packer/dispatcher and or shipper
B. The nature of the product
C. Country of origin of the product
D. Traceability code
D. Class and size of the product.
Okra is mainly imported by the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Italy.
France and the United Kingdom are the largest markets, due to their respective large African and Asian populations.
The Netherlands acts mainly as a re-exporter to other European countries.
French imports are estimated at around 7 thousand tonnes per year, whereas the UK imports about 15 to 20 thousand tonnes.
According to industry sources, Italy is importing about 3 to 5 thousand tonnes of okra annually.
The peak in the EU supply is in March, and decreases during summertime.
In March both African and Central American suppliers are active on the EU market.
India supplies whole year round, but has its peak supply from October to May.
Other suppliers are from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Central America and Thailand.