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Entering the European market for baobab

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To enter the European market for baobab you must meet the mandatory requirements set by the European Union. Also consider meeting the additional requirements that European buyers and niche markets have, as they will help you enter the European market. The European market for baobab is divided into three segments, with each having different channels you can enter through. You will face competition from other baobab suppliers and competing products when entering the European market. Feedback from industry sources indicates that prices of baobab will remain relatively stable in 2020.

1. What requirements must baobab products comply with to be allowed on the European market?

What are mandatory requirements?

As an exporter of baobab from a developing country, your baobab can only be exported for the European natural health product market if you comply with the European Union’s (EU) mandatory legal requirements for natural ingredients for health products. Non-compliance can prevent your baobab from entering the European market.

If your baobab is used in food supplements, you must comply with EU food supplement legislation and the European General Food Law.

Baobab dried fruit pulp is an established ingredient listed on the European Union’s Novel Food Catalogue; you must therefore comply with the new Novel Food Regulation. If you export baobab seed oil to the European market for food supplements, you must comply with Novel Food Regulation 2015/2283. You must also provide toxicological, microbiological and allergenic property data.

For baobab dried fruit pulp the specification requirements according to the Novel Food Regulation include:

Table1: Specifications of baobab fruit pulp

Authorised Novel Food

Specifications

Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

dried fruit pulp

Description/Definition:

Baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruits are harvested from trees. The hard shells are cracked open and the pulp is separated from the seeds and the shell. This is milled, separated into coarse and fine lots (particle size 3 to 600 μ) and then packaged.

Typical nutritional components:

Moisture (loss on drying) (g/100 g): 11.1-12.0

Protein (g/100 g): 2.03-3.24

Fat (g/100 g): 0.4-0.7

Total carbohydrate (g/100 g): 78.3-78.9

Total sugars (as glucose): 16.9-25.3

Sodium (mg/100 g): 7.42-12.2

Analytical specifications:

Foreign matter: Not more than 0.2%

Moisture (loss on drying) (g/100 g): 11.1-12.0

Ash (g/100 g): 5.5-6.6

Source: eur-lex.europa.eu

Tips:

Contamination

You must also comply with the EU’s food safety requirements which specifically cover topics such as Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); contam.42inants in food and microbiological contamination of food, food hygiene as outlined in the EU’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, extraction solvents concerning the safe processing of food; food irradiation and traceability as outlined in the European General Food Law.

Baobab is usually tested for heavy metals such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Lead. The maximum levels are set by Regulation (EC) No 466/2001 (amended by EC/78/2005). The maximum levels of Cadmium and Mercury are set at 0.05 mg/kg and for Mercury 0.5mg/kg wet weight. The maximum level of Lead and the standard for Lead is set at 0.1 mg/kg wet weight.

Tip:

  •  Always send European buyers uncontaminated baobab or baobab that has heavy metals within the set maximum levels, as they test baobab regularly. Failing to do so may end your business relationship with them because buyers expect high quality.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) / Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS)

For baobab to enter the European market, you must comply with the requirements on using plant resources agreed under international treaties and protocols within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This is because CBD is a part of EU law, and your own country is likely to be a signatory, meaning you need to comply in order to meet your own country’s laws as well.

The Nagoya Protocol’s Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) provides guidelines for accessing and utilising genetic resources and traditional knowledge and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits. Similar to the CBD, European companies need to comply with ABS legislation. ABS is also likely to be a part of your country’s regulations. As an exporter of baobab to the natural health product sector, make sure you abide by ABS.

In recent years, there is growing consumer awareness and demand for more environmentally-friendly products, and this trend is set to continue. This is leading European buyers to seek ethically sourced ingredients, something which is likely to become more important in the future.

Tips:

  • Visit the CBD website as it provides a range of useful information on CBD and ABS, for example, country profiles.
  • Consider ethically sourcing baobab, as this is increasingly demanded by European buyers.
  • Inform buyers if your baobab is ethically sourced and display this information on your company website and marketing materials, as this will make you more appealing to buyers.

Documentation 

European buyers of baobab expect exporters to provide them with well-structured and organised product and company documentation. This documentation helps to prove you meet their requirements, such as specific quality specifications. For example, a buyer stated in an interview that “we require a lot of documentation from the suppliers to make sure that goods meet our specifications”. Additionally, when asked about the need to have documents, a buyer said that “we need to have these”, with another buyer stating: “yes, 100 percent”.  

So provide documentation, as it gives you an advantage when trying to establish yourself on the European market, based on which you can develop long-lasting trading relationships with buyers. Additionally, doing so makes you look organised and well prepared for business.

European buyers of baobab for health products usually expect exporters to provide them with a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), Technical Data Sheet (TDS) and Certificate of Analysis (CoA). Table 2 shows what is contained in the SDS, TDS and CoA, to help you prepare these three pieces of documentation.

Table 2: What is contained in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), Technical Data Sheet (TDS) and Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

that matches

Product description

Product description

Data mentioned in the TDS

Product classification

Product classification

Pre-shipment samples approved by buyer

Hazard identification

Quality analysis

Contractual agreements with buyer

Information on safety measures

Information on applications

 

 

Certificates

 

Ensure you have a well-prepared SDS, TDS and CoA, respectively, for your baobab and have them ready for European buyers. Additionally, when approaching buyers, inform them of any documentation you have.

Tips:

What additional requirements do buyers often have?

Quality requirements

Quality is important to European buyers of baobab. According to one buyer, the “most important factor is quality”, while another buyer stated that exporters “need to meet our standards, and our quality standards are the main things”.

Baobab colour, mesh, moisture content, nutritional profile and microbiological composition are parameters European buyers look at; they also expect baobab not to be adulterated with other substances. This is because buyers use these parameters to determine the quality of baobab. For example unadulterated and microbiological contaminant free baobab will be of higher quality than adulterated and contaminated baobab.

The quality standards for raw materials, such as baobab, are set by the WHO Guidelines on Good Agriculture and Collection Practices (GACP) for Medical Plants. Good Manufacturing Practices set further standards for processed ingredients, including for pharmaceuticals and health products. These requirements have been harmonised under EU Directive 2003/94/EC.

Speak to European buyers to find out their specific requirements, and meet those requirements. Buyers expect well-structured company and product documentation. Having documentation gives you an advantage when seeking to enter the European market, as it gives buyers proof that your baobab meets their specifications and is of high quality. For example, a quality analysis contained in a Technical Data Sheet can prove that your baobab is of high quality. So provide buyers with documentation.

Before deciding whether to do business with you, European buyers usually require samples to see if your product meets their requirements and to ensure it is not adulterated or contaminated. For example, a buyer commented: “we undertake testing of samples, so suppliers have to be able to supply us with free samples”. You should therefore always send buyers high-quality samples, as that is likely to increase your chances of entering the European market.

European buyers routinely test products they buy, usually on a per batch basis, to ensure that products meet their quality requirements and are not adulterated or contaminated. For example, one buyer stated that “we undertake very stringent testing here”, with another buyer commenting: “we analyse in full detail… we need the best quality, and that’s why we need to do this”.

One buyer who “undertakes a lot of analysis” said that “basic analyses are microbiology, pesticides and heavy metals… but then beyond that, we test for things like glyphosate, mycotoxins or moisture content”. Explaining the process, the buyer stated that “we get multiple samples per batch and have them analysed in a lab before we even look to purchase… and when it arrives we do exactly the same process”, following which “we make a judgement call on the basis of that analysis”.

So always ensure that all products you send to your buyers meet their quality requirements and are not adulterated or contaminated. If you fail to do so, buyers will probably reject the product they ordered, you will bear the financial consequences, and your business relationship with them will probably end.

Baobab of a consistently high quality is important to European buyers, as it is key to the manufacturing of natural health products. Buyers therefore prefer a high-quality product across all orders in suitable packaging as per order volumes. For example, in a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) kraft paper bag that can hold 25 kilograms for an order of that size.

The importance of quality in the health products sector is expected to increase in the future. Quality is very important to European health product manufacturers who want to ensure they meet consumers’ needs.

Tips:

  • Only agree to specific requirements of European buyers if you can meet those requirements. Because failing to do so could end your business relationship with them.
  • Have up-to-date documentation that is readily available, as buyers use documentation to assess the quality of your product.

Quality management standards

European buyers of natural ingredients for health products increasingly use quality management standards when assessing the credibility of prospective exporters. Adopting quality management standards has several advantages; it gives your company credibility, as it shows your commitment to delivering high-quality products, and it boosts your image. It also helps to prove that you comply with mandatory requirements.

So consider adopting quality management standards, as this will help you to enter the European market. Examples include:

Tips:

  • Let European buyers know if you have certifications they seek, as that increases your appeal.
  • Display certifications sought by buyers on your website and marketing materials. That will give you an advantage when seeking to enter the European market. An example of a company in a developing country that does this is EcoProducts.
  • Consider acquiring British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety (BRCGS) certification if you are seeking to enter the United Kingdom (UK) market, as its standards are popular in this market.

Labelling and packaging requirements

  • Batch code
  • Country of origin or place of provenance
  • Date of manufacture
  • Best-before date
  • Weight
  • Storage conditions or conditions of use

For organic baobab, you must include the name and/or code of the inspection body and the certification number.

European buyers demand baobab of the highest quality. If you fail to package your product correctly, its quality will probably decline. This may lead to buyers rejecting the product they ordered, and negative financial consequences for you, and it could also end your business relationship with them. So consider preserving the quality of your baobab by using appropriate packaging materials and complying with general requirements. This includes always taking the following steps:

  • Use packaging materials that do not react with your baobab. Because if you use packaging materials that are reactive to your baobab, its quality will decline.
  • Use clean packaging materials. Because if you use packaging materials that are contaminated, with bacteria for example, your baobab will probably also be contaminated and its quality will then decline.
  • Ensure that certified organic baobab is physically separated from conventional baobab to prevent contamination.

Packaging requirements often differ from buyer to buyer. So speak to European buyers to find out their specific requirements and consider meeting those requirements.

The EU is committed to environmental sustainability and sustainable growth, something it has made clear in its Circular Economy Action Plan and the European Green Deal. It has set key priorities, such as reducing waste and increasing recyclability.

The EU is therefore putting increasing pressure on European businesses to reduce their waste and increase recyclability through targets and policies. So environmental sustainability is becoming more important to European buyers a trend that is expected to continue. You should therefore consider using recycled and/or recyclable packaging materials.

Figure 1: Examples of packaging

Examples of packaging

Source: Various

Tips:

  • Check the section on labelling and packaging guidelines in Access2Markets for further information about labelling requirements. The information is presented under product requirements.
  • Only agree to meet specific packaging requirements of European buyers if you can meet them. Failing to do so could end your business relationship with them.
  • Consider using recycled and/or recyclable packaging materials, as environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly important to European buyers. Read the guide on packaging to reduce environmental impacts for information and guidance on ways to do this.

Payment terms

Payment is central to all trade and it presents risks to everyone involved. Before trading with European buyers, do risk assessments of the available payment terms. As an exporter of baobab, try and minimise your risks while working to meet the needs of European buyers.

There are several methods of payment. However, for both importers and exporters, Letters of Credit (LC) are considered the safest payment term. This is because an LC lets both parties contact a neutral arbitrator, usually a bank, to resolve any issues. For the exporter, the chosen bank is a guarantor of full payment as long as goods have been dispatched. In such instances, to avoid further losses, exporters should find new buyers and pay for the return of dispatched goods.

Based upon their needs, importers and exporters can choose from several LC payment terms. These include standby, revocable, irrevocable, revolving, transferable, un-transferable, back to back, red clause, green clause and export/import. For exporters, standby LC is considered the safest, with it being frequently used in international trade. This is because it provides security to both importers and exporters who have little trading experience with each another. Other payment terms include cash in advance, documentary collections and open account.

Tips:

Delivery terms

When agreeing delivery terms with European buyers you must carefully consider three important factors: delivery time, volume and cost. Failure to meet agreed delivery terms could result to the end of your trading relationship with European buyers.

  1. Delivery time - European buyers prefer shorter delivery times. Air cargo is usually faster than sea freight. Air freight is also more reliable in terms of on time delivery. Please note that the global COVID-19 pandemic has generally increased delivery times.
  2. Delivery volume/ quantity of order –Larger quantities are often cheaper to ship by sea. With lower volumes, air freight can be less expensive, as margins get smaller.
  3. Cost of delivery method - It is estimated that sea freight is usually 4-6 times cheaper than air freight. This applies to larger volumes. It is not likely that the price of your cargo will increase substantially if you increase the volume. Please note that the cost of air freight has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although this is likely to change once passenger flights are fully operational again.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has created logistical challenges for exporters in developing countries. Delays and higher transport costs are two key challenges exporters face. For example, a European importer of baobab commented that “transportation, was very difficult” as “there were delays”, with another buyer commenting: “the transportation cost has increased”. Challenges for exporters are expected to continue for the foreseeable future as different states and governments around the world tackle COVID-19 with various measures.

Tips:

  • Keep in mind the three important factors of delivery time, volume and cost when determining which delivery terms are the most suitable for your business. Remember there will be tensions and trade-offs, particularly when you are doing business for the first time with a European buyer.
  • Visit the Freightos website to use the Freightos freight calculator to get international freight rate price information for transporting freight by ship and air. Doing so will allow you to make a more informed decision before agreeing delivery terms with buyers.
  • Speak to your logistics provider about the implications of COVID-19 before you agree delivery terms with European buyers. This is because delivery times could be longer due to lockdown and quarantine measures.
  • See the CBI study on tips for organising your export of natural ingredients for health products to Europe, which provides guidance on delivery terms used in the sector.

What are the requirements for niche markets?

Organic ingredients

Across Europe there is growing consumer demand for organic products, a trend expected to continue. Many buyers are therefore demanding organic ingredients for their natural health products. For example, when asked about the need for organic certification, a European buyer of baobab replied that “organic certification is always needed”, with another buyer stating: “yes 100%, I don’t think any client would buy from us if it was not organically certified”. Another buyer said: “the vast majority of things we buy are organic, so they would need to be organic certified”.

Additionally, according to one buyer: “there isn’t really a market in the EU for non-organic baobab” and “if somebody came onto the market with non-organic baobab, they wouldn’t really have a chance because they would be competing against everybody else that are only selling organic”. So as an exporter of baobab, consider getting organic certification, as it will increase your chances of entering the European market.

To market your natural ingredients as organic on the European market, you must meet European Union regulations. You can find information on EU organic certification on the IFOAM website. Several certification agencies can help you with the conversion process to organic production. Once certified, many buyers will request a Certification of Inspection (COI). If you don’t have a COI, you cannot trade your baobab as organic. Although the UK left the European Union in January 2021, the EU has agreed to recognise the UK as equivalent for organics until 31 December 2023. Demand for certified ingredients for health products on the European market is expected to continue growing in the future. As an exporter of baobab from a developing country, you should consider organic certification when targeting the European market. European buyers will increasingly demand high-quality ingredients.

Figure 2: EU organic logo

The official Organic label for organic products in Europe

Source: ec.europa.eu

Tips:

  • Consider converting to organic production methods and getting certification because of growing demand for organic health products.
  • Ensure you have a Certification of Inspection (COI) that is up-to-date with the latest changes made by the EU, which came into force on 3 February 2020. This is because it is a mandatory requirement if you want to trade organic baobab on the European market.
  • Inform prospective buyers if you already have a COI. You should also display it and the organic certification logo on your company website and marketing materials. This will make your company more appealing to buyers. B’Ayoba, EcoProducts and Baobab Fruit Company Senegal are examples of companies in developing countries doing this.
  • Consult the ITC Sustainability Map for a full overview of certification schemes used in this sector.

Meeting environmental and social standards

European consumers and retailers are increasingly putting pressure on companies to ensure that their products are made according to environmental and social standards. European buyers of baobab are therefore requesting suppliers meet environmental and social standards. Regarding social standards, for example, a buyer commented: “we’ve got a lot of customers who require it… it gives us a bit of legitimacy and it’s something we value ethically”. However, for small-scale producers meeting environmental and social standards is often too costly.

Meeting environmental and social standards is often part of a company’s policy and strategy. For example, when asked about the importance of meeting social standards, a European buyer commented: “we want to build a long-term relationship with our partners and that is why it is important that they earn fair money for their work, the value of their work”. Buyers have also stated that they use environmental and social standards in their marketing stories.

As an exporter, one way you can do this is by gaining verification and certifications that prove you meet environmental and social standards. With regard to environmental sustainability, consider meeting UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative and implement the BioTrade Principles, alongside FairWild Standards. To prove you meet social standards, acquire FLO Fairtrade certification or meet FairForLife standards.

Figure 3: Logos of fair trade certifications

Logos of fair trade certifications

Source: Various

Tips:

  • Acquire verification and certifications that prove your baobab for health products meets environmental and social standards. Doing so will help you find opportunities in the European market.
  • Inform prospective buyers about certification you have proving that you meet environmental and social standards and display this on your company website and marketing materials. This will make you more appealing to European buyers. B’Ayoba and EcoProducts are examples of two companies in developing countries doing this.
  • Consider if there is a business case for your baobab to meet environmental and social standards, particularly when demand for natural ingredients is predicted to increase over the coming years.

2. Through what channels can you get baobab on the European market?

The commercial production of baobab is concentrated to African countries, including Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Benin, Sudan and Kenya. On the European market, baobab is used in the health products industry, food industry and cosmetic industry.

How is the end-market segmented?

The European market for baobab can be segmented by end-user markets: health products, foods, and personal care products. Figure 4 gives examples of baobab products in the European market by end-user segments.

Figure 4: End Market Segmentation for Baobab Products

End Market Segmentation for Baobab Products

Source: Various

Health products industry

Baobab is mostly used as a powder in the health products industry. According to Bullet Line Market Research Reports, the baobab powder market in Western Europe is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 6.3% in terms of value and 2.6% in terms of volume until 2025. In the European health products market, organic baobab is becoming increasingly popular. Increasing popularity of baobab and its wide use in natural health products such as supplements and capsules are key factors in behind this.

Baobab in powdered form is used in food supplements because of its nutritional qualities. Baobab has high levels of vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fibre, carbohydrates, protein, potassium and lipids. Baobab also has a range of active properties, including anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. Aduna is a European company selling baobab powder because of its nutritional benefits.

As an exporter of baobab from a developing country, you must provide European buyers with a product of the highest quality, as this is essential to the manufacturing of natural health products. Speak to buyers to find out if they have specific requirements concerning baobab’s nutritional qualities and consider meeting those requirements. Organic baobab is becoming popular on the European health products market, so consider acquiring organic certification. Information on acquiring organic certification can be found under the ‘organic ingredients’ section of the study ‘What are the requirements for niche markets?’.

Food industry

Baobab powder is used by the food industry because of its nutritional qualities and flavour. It is added to a wide range of products, ranging from candy bars to smoothies. Baobab is usually used in powdered or pulp forms in the food sector.

Personal care industry

Baobab oil is used by the cosmetics industry because of its antioxidant content and high levels of Omega 6-9 acids, as well as its high vitamin, sterol, and mineral contents, which are important to maintaining healthy skin. Baobab leaves are used in sun care products because they are a rich source of anti-free radical flavonoids which help to protect the skin from sun damage. The personal care industry mainly uses baobab oil as an ingredient. 

This study focuses on baobab used in the natural health products sector.

Tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with baobab’s nutritional profile and the beneficial health properties it offers to the health product industry. Learning this is important because these are two of baobab’s key selling points; prospective European buyers often ask questions about this.    
  • See the CBI study on which trends offer opportunities or pose threats in the European natural ingredients for health products market. This study gives useful information about the European health products market, as well as information to increase your chances of market access.
  • Visit trade fairs to see if the industry is receptive to your product, get market information, and find potential buyers. Trade fairs will also give you the chance to speak to end-users and distributors, and to gauge your competition, especially the way they are marketing their products. See the CBI study on tips for finding buyers in the natural ingredients for health products sector for an overview of trade fairs in this sector.

Through what channels does baobab end up on the end-market?

Figure 5 shows the export value chain for baobab on its journey to reach the European market. Baobab enters the European market in a dried and liquid form. The processing and exporting of baobab is often combined and done by the same company in countries producing baobab. EcoProducts is a well-established South African company doing this.

Processors

European processors often source baobab directly from developing countries, as it provides them with greater transparency and control over product quality. Processors such as Yeo Valley and Alara source their baobab from importers.  

Importer/Distributor

Majority of baobab is imported in the European market through importers. European importers/distributors often travel to developing countries to personally meet their suppliers of baobab when assessing their credibility as potential trading partners. Import volumes in this channel range from tens of kilogram to hundreds of tonnes.

French company Nexira is an important importer/distributor of baobab in Europe. It deals with organic baobab powder. Other importers/distributors of baobab in the European market include Tradin Organic, Green Origins and Organic Herb Trading Company.

Agent

An export agent is a firm or an individual that undertakes most of the exporting activities on behalf of an exporter, usually for a commission. Agents can be found in developing countries as well as in Europe; however it is not that common for companies to use agents in the European market. As an exporter from a developing country, you can work with agents who represent and act on your behalf on the European market.

Figure 5: Export Value Chain of Baobab

Export Value Chain of Baobab

Source: Ecovia Intelligence

Tips:

  • Be prepared to send high-quality samples to prospective buyers, who will test them when assessing whether you are a credible exporter of baobab. Doing so will increase your appeal and therefore give you an advantage when it comes to entering the European market.
  • Consider expanding your baobab product range by including organic baobab powder, for example, as this will help you find a wider range of customers as some importer/distributors only import organic products. Other benefits of having a wider product range include it giving you more attention on the market, thus making you stand out from your competition.
  • Be prepared to meet prospective buyers who are interested in directly sourcing baobab from you if you are able to supply larger tonne volumes.

What is the most interesting channel for you?

As an exporter of baobab to the natural health products, importers/distributors are the most interesting channel for you. This is because importers/distributors have expertise importing and distributing baobab in the European market. They also have a good understanding of the European health products market and a wide range of customers. Importers of baobab in Europe also have storage facilities and an established logistics network. This can be very helpful to small and medium-sized exporters of baobab in developing countries who are just starting to export to Europe.   

Another interesting channel for you is European manufactures who directly source and import baobab powder from developing countries. There are many advantages of working directly with European manufactures. By exporting baobab powder directly to them, you are more likely to receive a higher price for you baobab. You could also be a part of their wider Corporate Social Responsibility policy. However, you may be required to supply larger volumes, something which may be difficult if you are a small to medium sized enterprise.

Tips:

3. What competition do you face on the European baobab market?

What countries are you competing with?

The Adisona digitate tree is native to Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Benin and Sudan, with this being a common strength across all of these countries. Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Benin, Sudan and Kenya have ideal conditions for baobab to grow, which is a second common strength across all of these countries.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is one of the leading producers of baobab in the world. The country has an established commercial baobab production industry with several companies operating there, which is one of its key strengths. It could therefore become easier for Zimbabwean producers to export baobab to the European market. This is important if European buyers want to place large orders.

Zimbabwean baobab producers struggle with climate change, a lack of rainfall, the deforestation of baobab trees, as well as political instability and corruption in the country. Other challenges Zimbabwe faces include a fragile economy and underinvestment in infrastructure, which can make it difficult to export.

South Africa

South Africa is another leading producer of baobab. It is a continental economic and political powerhouse and the country has sophisticated infrastructure and business capabilities. This is important when it comes to exporting to foreign markets. However, the South African baobab industry faces challenges such as climate change and negative consequences of human development. Other challenges South Africa faces includes ageing infrastructure, poverty and inequalities.

European buyers generally have a favourable perception of South Africa. When asked about their experience of importing baobab from South Africa, one buyer commented: “quite a lot of it is done very well; I don’t think there’s been any particular problems with it… it’s been quite an easy process”. 

Ghana

Ghana is another large producer of baobab, and has several companies harvesting and processing baobab. For example, British company Aduna works with 900 producers in Upper East Ghana to harvest their baobab fruits, with a further 200 women being employed at their processing centre. Ghana’s baobab industry is also developing, for example through schemes such as the planting of new baobab trees along with support from non-governmental organisations to develop the industry.

Ghana’s other strengths include an attractive business environment as well as its government supporting and developing the country’s agricultural industry. This is important when exporting to foreign markets. As such, it may become easier for Ghanaian exporters to export baobab to the European market. However, the Ghanaian baobab industry does face certain challenges, including land degradation due to deforestation, pests damaging and eventually destroying baobab trees, and infrastructure gaps in energy and transport.

Senegal

Senegal is another large producer of baobab. The country has an established commercial baobab production industry with several companies operating there. Senegal’s other strengths include implementation of major investment projects, progress on business climate and governance and a strong track record of political stability. As such, it could become easier for Senegalese producers to export baobab to the European market.

However, Senegal’s baobab industry also faces key challenges such as climate change, urbanisation and population growth along with deforestation of baobab forests to make way for the mining industry. Other challenges Senegal faces include inadequate energy and transport infrastructure.

European buyers generally have a favourable perception of Senegal. A buyer of Senegalese baobab powder commented that their experience has been good because “quality is very good”, as the company exporting it is a reliable business partner. However, COVID-19 is creating challenges for Senegalese exporters, particularly in transportation, which is leading to delays; something also noted by a European buyer.  

Benin

An established commercial baobab production industry with several companies operating is one of Benin’s key strengths. Benin’s other strength is its governments commitment to improving its infrastructure in the next few years.

It could become easier for Beninese producers to export baobab to the European market. However, a University thesis from 2011 indicates Benin’s baobab industry faces key challenges which include dangerous harvesting techniques, time-consuming processing practices, an unfair supply chain that puts growers at a disadvantage and a lack of market information along with climate change. Other challenges Benin faces include poor infrastructure and corruption. These challenges are likely to negatively affect European perception of Benin.

Sudan

One of Sudan’s key strengths is its large production of baobab, meaning it may become easier for Sudanese producers to export baobab to Europe. However, Sudan’s baobab industry also faces key challenges such as the limited availability of planting material, a lack of knowledge of management techniques, poor fruit processing technologies and a lack of well-organized supply chains which have little knowledge about exporting. Other challenges Sudan faces include a lack of investment in infrastructure, a poor business environment, governance issues and climate change. These are likely to negatively affect European buyer perception of Sudan.

Tips:

  • Find out if your country has programmes helping exporters like you harvest, cultivate and/or export your baobab. You can do this by contacting governmental ministries of trade in your country because they are likely to have information about this and can help you export your baobab.
  • Consider joining the African Baobab Alliance because they offer a range of assistance to exporters of baobab from developing countries like you.
  • Emphasise the strengths of your country. For example, if your country has sophisticated infrastructure and business capabilities, highlight this to European buyers because they are strengths that make it easier to export to the European market.

What companies are you competing with?

Several companies successfully export baobab to the European market. These companies market themselves as being able to deliver high-quality baobab in accordance with common European buyer requirements and requirements for niche markets.

Established companies, such as the selected companies highlighted below, have a professional website containing well-prepared content. Their websites have sections explaining to prospective buyers who they are, how they source and process their baobab oil, as well as the relevant technical details and the certifications they hold, accompanied by professional photographs. As a result, European buyers are likely to have a favourable perception of these companies.

Zimbabwean companies

B’Ayoba is an established Zimbabwean company exporting baobab to the European market. B’Ayoba’s key strengths include:

  • Commitment to exporting high-quality baobab products, which it ensures through its in-house microbiology lab where quality is constantly monitored.
  • Auditing its baobab producers every year, thus ensuring product quality.
  • The certified organic production of its baobab. Commitment to producing ethically and sustainably harvested baobab products in partnership with rural producer communities around Zimbabwe.
  • Their Baobab products have Fair Wild and UEBT certification, which demonstrates their commitment and ability to uphold environmental standards.

South African companies

EcoProducts is a well-established South African company exporting baobab products to the European market. EcoProducts’s key strengths include:

  • Commitment to exporting high quality baobab products through its strict quality management system. For example, EcoProducts’s production facilities are FSSC 22 000 certified.
  • Ability to export European Union (EU) Organic certified baobab products.
  • Commitment to producing socially responsible baobab products originating directly from communities living in the poorest and most underdeveloped parts of southern Africa.
  • Its baobab products having Fair Wild certification which demonstrates their commitment to upholding environmental standards.

Senegalese companies 

Many established companies export baobab to the European market. Baobab Fruit Company Senegal is one such Senegalese company. Baobab Fruit Company Senegal’s key strengths include:

  • Commitment to exporting quality, safe, traceable and socially responsible baobab to the food industries which it achieves through operating under strict international procedures.
  • Ability to export high-quality European Union (EU) Organic certified baobab which is also HACCP certified.
  • Ability to provide detailed information about its baobab products on its website, specifically technical details.

Other companies

Other companies also export baobab from other developing countries. Superfruit Baobab and Atacora are two Beninese companies doing so. Another is the Kenyan company Bam Fruit.

Tips:

  • Ensure you always provide European buyers of baobab for natural health products with the finest quality products because this is something they expect.
  • Consider acquiring certification that proves the high quality of your baobab products. For example FSSC 22 000 and HACCP certification, as it will make you appealing to buyers.
  • Consider acquiring certification that proves you meet and uphold social and environmental standards, something which is becoming increasingly popular on the European market. For example, Ecocert Fair Trade, Fair for Life, Fair Wild, UEBT and ABS certification.
  • Consider acquiring organic certification for your baobab products, for example European Union (EU) Organic certification. Especially since organic is becoming increasingly popular on the European market.
  • Ensure you have a professional up-to-date website with well-prepared content that clearly informs prospective buyers of your key strengths. For example, the certification you hold showing the quality of your products along with your commitment to upholding social and environmental standards.

What products are you competing with?

Moringa

Moringa is product that has been identified as a competing product to baobab. The moringa plant is native to regions of northern India and Pakistan. India is the world’s largest supplier of moringa. However European importers have strong quality concerns about Indian supplies, which is a major weakness. However, one of the moringa plant’s strengths is that it is now found across tropical zones in Africa, Asia, islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean, and South America, and it is cultivated in many areas of the world too.

Moringa is becoming increasingly popular on the European market for food supplements because of its wide range of health benefits, which is a key strength. Health benefits of moringa include it being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and rich in antioxidants. The European market for moringa remains underdeveloped, however the European food supplement market and global moringa products market are both expected to increase respectively in the next few years. Moringa could therefore potentially be a greater threat to baobab in the future.

Figure 6: Moringa

Moringa

Source: Rostovtsevayu / Shutterstock.com

Spirulina and chlorella

Edible algae such as spirulina and chlorella is a growing niche market that is predicted to grow as European consumers become more aware of the nutritional benefits of seaweed. Edible seaweed is divided into several categories such as red, green and brown algae. In recent years, there has been increasing demand for green algae spirulina and blue-green algae chlorella because of their health benefits. Spirulina and chlorella are therefore competing products to baobab.

Health benefits of spirulina include a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, and copper. Health benefits of chlorella include a high amount of riboflavin, thiamine, iron, and copper. Spirulina and chlorella therefore pose a threat to baobab.

Figure 7: Chlorella tablets and powder

Chlorella tablets and powder

Source: Jiri Hera / Shutterstock.com

Acerola cherry

Acerola cherry powder is another product that is competing to baobab. Acerola cherry is native to tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere in countries such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Brazil. Acerola is most well-known for being extremely rich in vitamin C. This is a key reason why it is used in health products. Other benefits of acerola cherry powder include the fact that it is a good source of vitamins and minerals and rich in antioxidants. Currently acerola cherry powder is a niche product. It therefore does not pose a major threat to baobab.

Figure 8: Acerola cherry

Acerola cherry

Source: Photoongraphy / Shutterstock.com

Maca

According to industry sources, maca has been identified as an ingredient competing with baobab due to it sharing a similar nutritional profile, particularly its high vitamin C content. Maca is native to Peru, which is where it is mainly cultivated. It is also cultivated in the high Andes of Bolivia and to small extent in Brazil. Maca is commonly available in a powdered form or as a supplement.

Maca is known for being nutritionally rich, as it is a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper and iron; key reasons why it is used in health products. The European market for maca is expected to increase in the coming years. This is driven by rising awareness of maca’s health benefits, as well as its high accessibility, its derivative products, and the popularity of health and nutritional supplements. Therefore, maca poses a threat to baobab.

Figure 9: Maca powder

Maca powder

Source: pxhere.com

Tips:

  • Position yourself against competing products, by highlighting the strengths of your company and baobab to European buyers. For example, its high quality, rich nutritional profile and positive health benefits, as well as any popular certifications your company has.
  • Familiarise yourself with products competing with baobab that are available on the European market; do this by reading the CBI study on moringa and the edible seaweeds spirulina and chlorella.
  • Use your baobab strengths as an opportunity to persuade European buyers to purchase it from you.
  • Build a marketing story for your baobab which places emphasis on its key strengths. B’Ayoba is a Zimbabwean company that does this, as it clearly informs prospective buyers about its baobab products strengths for the health market.

4. What are the prices for baobab on the European market?

The prices of baobab decreased slightly in 2014 and 2015 because of increased production. In 2018 the prices increased slightly because of lack of supply and unfavourable weather conditions. Feedback from industry sources indicates that baobab prices will remain relatively stable in 2020. The FOB market price of baobab powder is currently USD 12-13 per kilogramme. Baobab seed oil is priced at around (FOB) USD 30-60 per kilogramme. Organic baobab oil is usually priced higher at about (FOB) USD 80-100 per kilogramme. In the longer term, the price of baobab will be affected by climate change, weather conditions and level of production.

Interviews with European buyers and importers of baobab suggest that the market price of baobab has increased since the global COVID-19 pandemic due to the disruption it has caused to supply chains. Key aspects of this are higher transportation costs and delays in receiving orders. For example, an importer of baobab commented that “the transportation cost has increased”. The disruption to supply chains is expected to continue because of lockdown and quarantine measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tips:

  • Factor in the implications of COVID-19, particularly increased delivery costs, in your price calculations. If you don’t do so, you could end up with financial loses.
  • Be open to offering discounts to buyers who order your baobab in bulk. European buyers are used to discounts in case of larger orders. To avoid making loses, include the discounts you offer in your original price calculations, so that you don’t sell at a lower price than your cost price.
  • Certification schemes can enable you to charge a premium for your baobab. Make sure you can justify your price with relevant certifications.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Ecovia Intelligence.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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