African food manufacturers to improve packaging, better compete in markets

3 April 2017
ITC News
Small and medium-sized firms in sub-Saharan Africa receive training in using quality packaging to add value to their products and ensure competitiveness in global markets.

Setting up one-stop shops for food packaging is a priority in sub-Saharan Africa – one that is on its way to being accomplished.

Food manufacturing businesses in sub-Saharan Africa are learning to use higher quality packaging to better compete in global markets as part of a new project co-led by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The ‘Improving Food Packaging for Small and Medium Agro-Enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa’ project will be implemented in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

The project is jointly implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and ITC and is funded by Industria Macchine Automatiche (IMA), an Italian manufacturer of automatic packaging machines.

Setting up packaging centres

The objective this year is to make the business case to set up packaging centres by conducting needs assessments. Another priority is to conduct feasibility studies, to find the specific business model for each country.

The next stage is to secure funds to finance the implementation of the national food packaging centres. At the same time, there will also be train-the-trainer sessions in East and West Africa.

The long-term goal is to create stronger handling, packaging, processing and marketing systems in food supply chains at the country and regional levels, resulting in supply chains that are more efficient, profitable and sustainable. Representatives of business, government and international organizations will work together to accomplish this goal.

Tackling poor packaging

The project tackles poor packaging, one of the main challenges for local food manufacturers trying to compete with imported products.

Manufacturers face constraints including a lack of investment in the packaging sector; low availability of quality material, equipment and packaging services; high import costs; and a lack of qualified human resource professionals.

Addressing these packaging-related needs and priorities of small and medium-sized enterprises in the food industry will benefit people all along the food chain, from farmers, associations of producers and manufacturers of packaging materials to printers, designers and distributors of packaging materials.

Sharing knowledge, skills

Firms will gain knowledge and develop skills through ITC-facilitated networks that include packaging associations, information centres and testing laboratories.

ITC also offers an integrated export packaging knowledge and information kit called PACKit, which contains modules on technology, packaging materials, transportation, labelling, regulatory compliance, brand and logo identity, packaging design and import requirements.