Côte d'Ivoire producers of cashews, cassava and cereals tap European market

6 November 2013
ITC News
ITC’s training and assistance in marketing of products connects producers to potential buyers

Producers of cashew nuts, cassava and cereals from the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire now have a better understanding of how to reach potential markets in developed countries, after receiving training from the International Trade Centre (ITC) on how to grasp and identify market opportunities in Europe.

ITC experts on 6–10 October accompanied a group of producers on trips to different European cities, assisting them in establishing contact with potential buyers. ITC has been coaching producers to effectively present their products to buyers from developed countries since February of this year.

Expanding the cashew sector

On 6 October, ITC experts visited the Anuga trade fair in Cologne and identified exhibitors who could potentially become trading partners. Most of them were in the organic foods section, with a number of exhibitors involved in the production of cereals, fruits and nuts, in addition to those in other sections.

Participants of the Sonmon cashew nut consortium, composed of individual producers from the north of the Côte d'Ivoire, connected with several high-potential buyers.
A majority of the contacts established were Netherlands-based trading companies, each importing between 10 and 30 containers of cashews a year. In their efforts to diversify and scale up their imports, these companies are looking for alternatives to the traditional suppliers of Brazil, India and Viet Nam.

Positioning cereals for the global market 

The Anuga trade fair provided examples of how cereals – such as Bolivian quinoa or Australian chia – can be positioned in developed markets, and they served as examples of how to develop cereal products from the Côte d'Ivoire. It also revealed potential future opportunities for processed products, such as health food bars or gluten-free snacks.

Visiting the Paris region

ITC experts also travelled with the producers to the Rungis Market near Paris, where they met importers and distributors, in particular those specializing in the exotic fruit sector in France. Several showed an interest in partnering with suppliers from the Côte d'Ivoire.

In Garges-lès-Gonesse, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, the team met with a major distributor and retailer of exotic foods with retail outlets across the French capital. The team also visited a hypermarket in the area to explore the types of food being offered, and to demonstrate to the producers from the Côte d'Ivoire the types of packaging and marketing strategies they can use.

Preparing to enter the European market 

In preparation for this trip, ITC held preparatory workshops in Abidjan to establish the objectives of the consortia and make field visits to better understand the production environment and challenges of local producers. The goal of these sessions was to determine the type of marketing-related support that would be needed, as a complement to other work addressing gaps in quality and production capabilities.

Subsequently, marketing and branding sessions were held with the consortia involved to define the mission and individual prospects. In addition, marketing material such as brochures, websites and presentations were created to promote each of the consortia. Sessions on electronic commerce were held with the local teams to review how the designs of their websites could be optimized for search engines, and additional sessions were held on using social media to increase exposure and interest in the companies.

Ahead of the trip to Europe, ITC also trained each of the teams in sales and negotiation techniques, such as presenting key arguments about the products, analysing their potential to serve buyers and exploring buyers’ needs. Following the trip, a plan of action on how to address the opportunities in Europe was agreed upon.