Poor packaging affects competitiveness in sub-Sahara Africa

Apr 23, 2017

Poor packaging in Ghana is one of the main reasons for the failure of locally manufactured food products to establish themselves in the market and compete favourably with imported ones.

This fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), accounts for the same problem in most sub-Saharan African countries; thus improving food packaging in crucial if Africa is to be globally competitive.

The FAO has therefore joined forces with the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint technical cooperation agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, and I. M. A. S. p. A., an Italian private company which is a world leader in the designing and manufacture of automatic machines for the packaging of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, to address this challenge and develop a project, “Improving food packaging for small and medium agro-enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa”.

At the inception workshop in Accra last week, the FAO country Representative, Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel noted that packaging plays a crucial role in preserving food quality and safety and in facilitating distribution and marketing of food products.

“Improving food packaging addresses a number of challenges including reduction in post-harvest damage and improving food safety and quality. This in turn contributes to making domestic products more competitive”.

He noted that there is a strong demand for processed and packaged products in sub-Saharan Africa. The region, he said, has a big and growing potential market (population projected to double from 1.2 billion in 2015 to 2.4 billion by 2050), urbanisation is projected to triple from 39% in 2015 to 60% by 2050 with an emerging middle class with greater spending power.

These demographic factors are creating a dietary transformation, he added.

“About 85% of food consumed in Africa is now made up of processed foods like grains and edible oils, semi-processed foods like meat and dairy and, fresh fruits and vegetables. This categories are predicted to continue to grow and therefore, development of high value food chains and particularly agro-processing is emerging as a sector that is increasingly attractive for private investment in Africa”.

Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel said small and medium agro-enterprises have acritical role to play in this ongoing transformation of the agri-food chain. They make a significant contribution to income, employment and growth of the national economy.

“According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the small and medium enterprises sector is crucial to Africa’s growth, contributing more than 45 percent employment and 33 percent to Gross Domestic Product GDP”.

A study commissioned by FAO in 2011 revealed that that globally about one-third of food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tons annually) is lost or wasted. FAO estimates in 2012 indicate that annual global quantitative food losses and waste amount to 30 percent for cereals; 40-50 percent for root crops, fruit and vegetables; 20 percent for oilseeds, meat and dairy; and 30 percent for fish.

Ghana lost 3.2 million metric tons of food valued at US$8.9 billion in 2013, which could have been more if food losses on Ghanaian farms were included. Distribution losses amounted to 1.7 million tons, while retail and consumer losses are 578,000 and 946,000 metric tons respectively. Using Ghana’s population estimate of 25.91 million (GSS, 2012), the per capita retail value of total foods loss in Ghana is US$342.67 per year.

Mitigating the packaging constraints that affect small and medium agro-enterprises in the country is likely to contribute to strengthen the entire food chain and improve the competitiveness and food security for the benefit of all food chain actors and other stakeholders.

The inception workshop was aimed at providing guidance to food chain actors and governments in Africa on appropriate food packaging systems including food packaging materials, equipment, technologies, regulations, services and practices, thus contributing to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of food supply chains.

The project will be implemented in Cameroon, Cote’ d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.

Source: Konrad Kodjo Djaisi/thebftonline.com/Ghana

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