Zim firms urged to tap into EU food market

HARARE - The global trend towards healthy living through healthy eating, especially of sugar and additive-free foods, super foods, and organic, nutrient-rich supplements provides an excellent opportunity for Zimbabwe, especially in developed markets such as Europe.

Zimbabwe’s trade promotion body, Zimtrade, said local producers of dried fruit and related healthy snacks, Baobab fruit powder, Aloe Vera, Capsicum, Ginger, Turmeric, and Moringa should look to tap into the market created by the increasing demand for healthy eating and herbal medicinal and health products.

Some of these products are also used as inputs in the cosmetic industry, food supplements industry, herbal medicine manufacturing, or even sold for raw consumption.

According to a report from the Centre for Promotion of Exports from Developing Countries (CBI), the major consumers of herbal medicinal products in Europe include Germany, France, Italy and the UK, with statistics showing that Germany alone consumed around $1,3 billion of such products in 2015.

CBI also reported that the European Union is the largest market in the world for dried tropical fruit including bananas, passion fruit, apples, peaches, mangoes and pineapples.

Statistics from the Trade Map show that Europe’s imports of selected dried fruit increased by around 10 percent from $8,8 billion in 2013 to $9,7 billion in 2017.

The major importers in 2017 were the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and the growing markets in Eastern Europe (Croatia and Austria), and the Baltic countries.

Zimtrade noted that this upward trajectory is expected to continue, driven by the healthy snacking trend such as fruit bars and new  product applications such as the rising use of dried fruit in breakfast cereals.

“Zimbabwe’s climate is favourable for the growing of most fruits, and increased support to small-scale farmers to improve livelihood of communities has resulted in rising production for example in banana farming, which grew by 180 percent to 45 775 tonnes in 2017 compared to 16 000 tonnes in 2015,” the organisation said in a statement.

Zimbabwe’s current exports are primarily of fresh fruit, mainly to South Africa and Mozambique with 2017 figures amounting to $55,4 million (oranges, nectarines, grapefruit) whilst dried fruit exports remain low at below $60 000 in 2017.

Opportunity to diversify into value-added dried fruit products abounds in Zimbabwe as the country’s Eastern Highlands has vast land and a climate favourable for fruit tree growth.

— The Financial Gazette

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