Spice up your business success: produce herbs and spices
Do you know the poor Jamaican dad, Levi Roots, who became famous in the United Kingdom with his spicy Reggae Reggae Sauce he started making in his kitchen after a recipe from grandma? No? You should Google him and read his story (after you‘ve finished this book, of course). Sainsbury‘s supermarket in the UK reports that his spicy sauce regularly outsells ketchup. Well, that explains why Levi is now a millionaire, but it also explains that there is money in spices. And Africa has many of them. Hot!
Africa is richly blessed with spices and has a long and interesting history with this age-old and valuable product. Hot pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, turmeric and thyme are just a few of the highly-traded spices both within and outside Africa.
Apart from local consumption of spices, Africa has a huge potential to earn foreign revenue from exporting its wide range of spices to the outside world. Countries like Ethiopia already earn millions of dollars in spice exports. In 2012, for example, the country raked in over $700 million from spice and related exports, much of it traditional spice mixtures. This is just a glimpse of what‘s possible if other countries on the continent explore the potential of their spice commodities.
We believe in three business concepts that may be the most successful for your herbs and spices business:
Produce spices or buy them from local farming cooperatives (build a cooperative if there is none) for export purposes. You may find it easiest to sell to Africans in the Diaspora via online shops or local outlets. Think of other outlets and markets for export.
Sell fresh herbs and spices locally that are atypical for many countries in Africa, but that will most certainly find a market selling to high-end hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets, such as dill (excellent for fish dishes), lemongrass, chives, basil, coriander, vanilla, cinnamon.
Process the herbs and spices: Process locally popular spices and package them in new, convenient ways with your own brand. There is a growing trend among new professionals not to buy traditional spices in bulk from the local market, but buy them neatly packaged at supermarkets. Alternatively, produce, dry, process and sell herbs and spice mixtures that are not usually locally available, such as pizza herbs‘, barbecue mix‘, herbes de Provence‘ , Salad herbs‘, Chilli con carne spice mix‘.
Although we have shared several niche ideas under the business concepts section above, here are more for you:
Spicy sauces (the ones that sell next to ketchup in supermarkets)
Spice mix for fish dishes
Herbal tea bags
Herbs with health benefits, producing healing and soothing creams.
Traditional spices by mail order for Diaspora Africans from particular countries
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
Most of the concepts above will target niche markets in Africa where consumers increasingly adopt Western lifestyle habits. Africa‘s big cities in its fast-growing economies are your best markets.
Action & Tips
It may be best to observe the changing eating habits and do some research by asking consumers and food businesses what herbs and spices they are missing. Next, you could try out samples and see if your product would be popular.
Check if there are food exhibitions you could visit locally or regionally and look out for opportunities to exhibit your own spice product when it is ready. This is an excellent way to test the market further or find clients and get feedback.
Think about what the African Diaspora misses abroad, and equally what African returnees, Western expats, and tourists wished they had access to in Africa.
Senai Wolderufael – Feed Green Ethiopia Exports (Ethiopia)
In 2012, Senai Wolderufael started Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Company. Now 27 years old, his company produces and exports popular Ethiopian spice blends to satisfy the needs of his countrymen living abroad, especially in the United States and Europe.
Fortunately, his spice blends have become quite popular with a growing number of non-Ethiopians within Africa and abroad. His company’s top selling spice blends are Shiro, Mitmita, Korarima and Berbere. All of these are mixtures of common spices like peppers, ginger and several other local herbs and spices.
A graduate from the University of Addis Ababa, Senai’s entrepreneurial success has caught the world’s attention. In February 2014, Senai, along with 29 other African entrepreneurs, was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2014.