Exporting Okra To Europe part 1

*     Introduction 
Okra is an exotic vegetable in Europe and is 

consumed mostly by people of African, 

Caribbean and Asian origin. 
*   Product Definition 
– Okra is the fruit of the plant Abelmoschus 

esculentus also known as lady’s finger or 

–  Okra can be produced in both tropical 

or sub-tropical climates. 
– The plant can grow up to 2 meters and is either annual or perennial. 
–  The unripe fruit should be picked a couple of 

days after flowering and can be eaten as a 

– The seed pods are green or red and can grow up to 18 cm long.
–  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.�
Commodity code for okra Number Product 

 Fresh or chilled vegetables
Source: Eurostat Comext. 
*   Product Specification 
–  Quality: 

Import of fresh fruits and vegetables from 

third countries to the EU must conform to 

general standards. 
– Minimum requirements is that products:

 —- should be intact, 

 —- clean and sound, 

 —- (practically) free from pests, 

 —- damage, 

 —- abnormal external moisture,

 —- 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 specification range. 
*     Okra should not be harvested in the rain or 

when excessively wet, and should be handled 

with care. 
*    Rubber gloves should be used during 

harvesting and handling.
*    On harvesting ….

—- approximately 1 cm of stem should remain 

attached to the pod. 
*  Due to the perishable nature of okra, harvesting must take place on the day of, or on the day preceding shipment. 
*        Classes of Okra

 There are 3 different quality classes of okra: 
o Extra Class (superior quality); 
o Class I

 (slight defects in shape, 

development and colouring); 
o Class II 

(defects in shape, development, colouring and 

Oversize and damage crops are to be 

removed in order to meet the highest quality 

*     Size: 
Okra products should be harvest

—- between 40 _ 115 mm in length,

—- green,

—- tender and 

—- readily snap at the tip. 
 Size is determined by the length of the okra (in mm. 
*  Size Code For Okro
Size code :   

Length of the fruit in mm 

 A   40.1 – 65.

 B   65.1 – 90.0 

 C   90.1 – 115.0 

 D 115.1 and above  

Okra is highly perishable but with optimum �

post-harvest handling systems (cold chain), 

quality is maintained for four to seven days.  
*  The visible part of the contents of the 

package must be representative of the entire 

*  Okra is to be packed in a way that properly 

protects the product. 
*  The materials used inside the package must be clean and of a quality such as to avoid 

causing any external or internal damage to 

the produce. 
*  The use of materials, particularly paper or stamps bearing trade specifications, is allowed, provided the printing or labelling has been done with non-toxic ink or glue. 


*  Stickers individually affixed to the produce 

shall be such that, when removed, they 

neither leave visible traces of glue, nor lead to skin defects. 
* 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.
 *  All pods meeting the size specifications can be loose packed into cartons 

(size grading into individual size is not 

*  Okra is graded by hand or moving conveyors or standard grading tables.
*  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 

*   Labelling: 
Each package must bear the following 

particulars, in letters grouped on the same 

side, legibly and indelibly marked, 

and visible from the outside: 
*     Information about the packer/dispatcher 

and or shipper 
*   The nature of the product 
*   Country of origin of the product
*    Traceability code 
*   Class and size of the product. 
To be continued
Please note.

We enjoin everyone of us to get a note book. Or possibly print this out for reference
We will still come across this as we move along.
Yinka Adesola

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