“12.5. Development of African restaurants
The number of African restaurants in France, as well as in other European countries, is rapidly increasing (Leroux, 1996; Defrance, 1996). Despite this, Asian restaurants are still the most popular ethnic restaurants followed by Mexican, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, North African and Indian restaurants and dominate the market for ethnic food. A marketing effort therefore is necessary in order to make known the richness and variety of the African cuisine to the discerning European consumer (Andriamirado, 1997).”
The trade in France and Belgium of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) from forests in Central Africa (Cameroon, CAR, Congo, DRC, Gabon) was as recently as 20 years ago aimed at immigrants originating from the region. The market is now opening up to a European clientele and expanding to other countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. This trade involves wild-harvested products, as well as those from cultivation. The studies carried out on this poorly understood market have identified around 40 food and medicinal products that are commonly sold in Europe.
An analysis of the market (current outlets, vendors, distributors and distribution chains, and prices) shows that these NWFPs, principally imported from three countries (Cameroon, DRC and Congo), are still primarily aimed at African and Caribbean clientele (the “ethnic market”) but are now starting to penetrate rapidly into the market for organic products. In the “ethnic market” in both Belgium and France, NWFPs are sold in “local tropical groceries” and in “neighbourhood tropical markets”. NWFPs labelled as organic products are imported exclusively from Cameroon and distributed through shops specialising in natural and dietetic items, the numbers of which are increasing in France and throughout Europe. For the moment, these two sectors involve rather small amounts of NWFPs and remain poorly understood, due to a lack of both reliable official statistics and assistance from the importers who were contacted. However, retail prices are high.
The development of this market offers interesting possibilities for improving income among rural Africans, provided their production is adapted to market requirements for quality, quantity and regular availability. The impact of anticipated growth in European demand for organic, ethnic and dietetic products on biodiversity conservation in Central Africa should also be analysed carefully. It would be useful to conduct a quantitative analysis of the volumes of products being traded at each stage of the distribution chain and prices received at each level from the producer to the consumer.
Key words: market, Central Africa, non-wood forest products, Europe, rural populations
Like other tropical regions, Central Africa is rich in resources referred to as non-wood forest products (NWFPs). Known and used for many years by local populations, they have been studied by many African and western researchers (Ake-Assi, 1985; Makita-Madzou, 1985; Hladick and Hladick, 1989; Stevels, 1990; Tabuna, 1993; Bourobou, 1994; Schneemann, 1994; Ndoye, 1995; Mialoundama, 1996; Silou, 1996).
In Central African countries, a proportion of these NWFP resources satisfy household consumption, whilst the remainder is sold in local and regional markets. Other products such as Gnetum africanum are exported to some European countries such as France and Belgium, where food and medicinal NWFPs have been increasingly commercialised over the past two decades. Initially, this trade was exclusively targeted at people from Central Africa resident in Europe. However, this market is expanding towards European consumers and spreading to countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. Considering the present growth of this market and the socio-economic benefits which derive from it for local suppliers (e.g. increased income, job-creation), it is an important aspect of NWFP research. This report presents the preliminary results of a study of the markets for NWFPs in Europe. Future work will involve a consumption survey which will be carried out on African and European consumers in Paris and Brussels. This will be followed by a second study stage devoted to assessing the optimum means for the African-based suppliers to access markets.
This study aims to contribute to the development of NWFPs in Central Africa and Europe. Thus, this work has four main objectives:
· To assess how the existing markets work and are organised;
· To study the evolution of this trade and its development prospects;
· To identify impediments on the markets and needs of wholesalers;
· To define the conditions for gaining access to this market.
To achieve these goals, we have used the general ethnobiology methodology developed by Porteres (1961) and Barrau (1971). This approach was used by Woldesselassie (1989) for his work on African food and food plants in Paris, and by Baruto Walujo (1985) for his work on the plant products sold in the Asian stores of the Paris region.
For this study, the following activities were undertaken:
· Contacting Africans living in Paris in order to evaluate the selling points of African products;
· The identification of Central Africans involved in the sale and use of NWFPs;
· The identification of the commercial name of the NWFPs sold and the photographic recording of the products on display;
· The collection of samples of the NWFP for scientific identification;
· The identification of the retailers in order to assess the structure of the trade network;
· The interviewing of the various players in the network.
The imported NWFPs come from wild-harvest sources as well as from cultivated sources. Our work has identified over 44 NWFPs commonly sold in Europe (See appendix). Fourteen come from the wild, 24 from agroforestry and six come from both wild and cultivated sources. These products fall into two groups: raw and transformed products. They are mainly imported from Cameroon and DRC. Perishable products are transported by air, while most transformed NWFPs (e.g. palm oil) are shipped by sea.
Among the most frequently imported NWFPs are the fumbua or koko (Gnetum africanum and G. buchholzianum), cola nut (Cola nitida), safou (Dacryodes edulis), djansang(Ricinodendron heudelotii), bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis), pepe or peve (Monodora myristica or Monodora tenuifolia), bitter kola (Garcinia kola), ndolé (Vernonia amygdalina), saka-saka (Manihot esculenta), mushrooms and caterpillars. Some of the more traditional tropical fruits such as avocados, mangoes and many varieties of banana, cultivated in village orchards and other agro-forests, are also widely traded. Because of a lack of statistics on the value and volumes traded, it is difficult to quantify this trade. However, the trade in African NWFPs is known to employ several hundred persons in France and Belgium.
In France and Belgium, the history of trade of African products is linked to the immigration of people from sub-Saharan Africa. According to Poiret (1996), before the wave of independence in the 1960s, this immigration mainly concerned West-Africans. Therefore, only sub-Sahelian products were available. The Central African NWFP market started developing in the 1960s in France and Belgium. The pioneers of this activity, often Europeans, ran grocery stores and were also street vendors in African meeting places such as the ‘African House’, or the DRC ‘Student Hall’ in Brussels. Gradually, this market developed and reached its peak level in the mid 80s when the law on family reunion was passed in France, allowing family members to join people of Central African origin studying or working in the country.
Demand is comprised of two consumer categories:
· The nationals of Central African countries resident in Europe;
· Persons who recently discovered the products on a trip to Africa.
Central African natives number 13 000 in Brussels, according to the latest census by the National Statistics Institute (SNI). In France, according to the results of the census by the INSEE, the population of Central Africans is 60 604 people; a total of 73 000 in both countries. However, this is only the registered population and, if those not yet registered or those who now have French or Belgian nationality are taken into account, there are close on 100 000 potential customers for African NWFPs.
NWFPs are available in two kinds of stores; the “local tropical groceries” and in the “neighbourhood tropical markets”.
In Paris, there are around 50 local tropical grocery stores, many of which have been established since 1982. These shops are always well-stocked and offer a wide range of products from Africa, notably smoked and salted fish, cosmetics, newspapers, and, most importantly, fresh produce. Products are generally displayed on two kinds of stalls: fresh produce on mobile stalls outside the shop, and the less perishable products are displayed inside on fixed shelves.
Before the development of the local tropical groceries, the neighbourhood tropical markets were the only Central African NWFP outlets. They were simple grocery shops scattered throughout Paris. Neighbourhood tropical markets are less well stocked than local tropical grocery stores and are located in cities with large African suburban populations such as Paris and Brussels. The choice of products is limited, especially for fresh NWFPs. According to importers and wholesalers, the number of neighbourhood tropical markets is increasing. First clustered in central Paris, neighbourhood tropical markets spread first to the Paris suburbs and then on to other large French cities. The numbers have grown from six in the late 1970s to around 100 in Paris and its suburbs. They are run, in most cases, by Asians, although sometimes by Africans.
The majority of imported NWFPs arrive at ethnic markets, the first destination of most of the imported products from Cameroon and DRC. These fall into two groups: regularly imported products that are available all year round (e.g. cassava leaves, bush mango kernels) and seasonal products (e.g. the fruits of Dacryodes edulis; the larvae, Ryncophorus phoenicis, a grub found in the apex of the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis, also belongs to this category).
Because of the absence of official statistics on African NWFPs, it is very difficult to quantify the trade volumes. However, it has been possible to estimate the most commonly imported products to France, and these are:
· Fresh and dried leaves of Gnetum spp. (fumbua)
· Leaves of ndolé (Vernonia amygdalina)
· Fruits of Dacryodes edulis (safou)
· Cassava leaves (Manihot esculenta)
· Kernels of bush mango (Irvingia spp.)
· Leaves of Corchorus olitorius (dongo-dongo ya makasa)
· Cola nuts (Cola acuminata)
· Bitter kola (Garcinia kola)
· Djansang (Ricinodenron heudelottii).
Four main actors are involved in the distribution of NWFPs in France and Belgium; the importers, the wholesalers, the retailers and the consumers. Some importers and retailers combine these different functions (import, wholesale and retail).
The NWFP importers can be divided into three groups: fixed, itinerant and occasional importers. The fixed importers handle large volumes of food NWFPs and other products (smoked fish, drinks, cosmetics, etc.) targeted at people from tropical regions. They obtain their stock from West and Central Africa or other tropical regions, and are either of African or European origin. They import both fresh and transformed NWFPs. Recently, however, some European importers have given up trading in fresh products and left that to African importers. The primary reason for leaving the trade being the difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies of stock and its uneven quality. This was the case for two French companies, Anarex and Racine, which specialise in the importation of African food crops. The majority of NWFP importers buy their products in Central Africa through a local partner or purchasing agent who is in contact with the in-country markets and suppliers (farmers and manufacturers). The commercial links with the latter are usually exclusive, as stated in the terms of their contracts.
Itinerant importers regularly import fresh and transformed products. The volumes imported are often small and are delivered to the clients on the same day the goods are unloaded at Roissy airport in Paris. They have no storage facilities and try to avoid having to handle large amounts of stock. Occasional importers are often retailers or people on holiday who take advantage of trips to Central Africa to import goods on their return. The quantities involved are very small, with some of the products going for domestic consumption and the remainder often sold to neighbourhood tropical markets and local tropical groceries.
In the NWFP trade in Paris and Brussels, there are no independent wholesalers. Instead, wholesaling is done by the fixed and itinerant importers. There are as many importers as there are wholesalers (about three in Brussels and around ten in Paris).
In France and Belgium, retail sale of NFWPs is almost exclusively in the hands of Africans and Asians, and very rarely, of Europeans (as is the case in Brussels). There are three kinds of retailers; independent fixed retailers, integrated fixed retailers and itinerant retailers.
Independent and integrated fixed retailers are mainly Asians. Their outlets are the neighbourhood tropical markets and local tropical grocery shops. They sell products targeted at people from Central African and other tropical regions (West Africa, West Indies, Latin America, etc.). Their success may lie in the fact that they come from the merchant classes in their country of origin and that they are often provided with capital by their community (Ma Mung, 1996). The entrepreneurial Bamileké ethnic group of Cameroon also play an important role in the retail business.
Independent fixed retailers from Central Africa have specialised in the retail sale of products from their country of origin such as Dacryodes edulis, or Gnetum. Thus, a typical NWFP from Congo can only be found at a retailer originating from this country and this “local factor” is therefore important in the behaviour of the consumer. This attitude can also be justified by the absence of any kind of label indicating quality of the products. Consumers go to the grocery shops owned by fellow nationals, in whom they have more confidence.
Although all consumers come from Central Africa, they do not all buy the same products. Except for the fruits of Dacryodes edulis, NWFP consumption is national and not regional. For example, saka saka (cassava leaves), koko (sugar cane) and fumbua (Gnetum spp.) are targeted at nationals from CAR, Gabon and DRC. In contrast, products such as djansang (Ricinodendron heudelotii), miondo (processed cassava) and ndolé (Vernonia amygdalina) are bought only by people from Cameroon.
NWFPs are distributed in France and Belgium through three types of chains: the direct, short and long tracks.
8.5.1. The direct track
The ultra short track has two actors: the importer and the consumer with the products going straight from one to the other. It is a system of direct sale. This type of distribution was found twice in Brussels and once in Paris. One portion of the imported product goes to the wholesale business and the other to direct retail in the importer’s own grocery.
8.5.2. The short track
This has three actors: the importers, the retailers or restaurant manager, and the consumer. The products go through the hands of an intermediary before reaching the consumer. This distribution strategy can be found in Brussels, Paris, Lyon and Montpellier.
Case 1: Importer………………Retailer………………………………Consumer
Case 2 : Importer……………Restaurant Manager……………………Consumer
8.5.3. The long track
This has at least four actors, and can only be found in French cities such as Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Marseille, where there are no importers. Retailers usually have to obtain their stock from the Paris-based retailers. Thus, the product goes through the Paris retailer (retailer 1) and a second retailer (retailer 2) or restaurant manager, before it reaches the consumer.
Case 1: Importer………Retailer 1………Retailer 2…………….Consumer
Case 2: Importer…Retailer 1….Retailer 2…Restaurant Manager….Consumer
Pricing of Central African NWFPs is not subject to any particular regulation. Enquiries undertaken between January and July 1997 revealed the existence of certain products with stable prices (e.g. Gnetum, cassava leaves, ndole) which do not seem to be affected by changes in supply and demand. On the other hand, the price of certain fruits, such as Dacryodes edulis, fluctuate depending on the quantities circulating within the market.
According to many retailers, the majority of consumers find the prices too high and this often limits purchasing (Boudimbou, 1991). However, these high prices can be explained by the numerous losses sustained during transportation and the costs of air freight and customs. A lowering of prices would necessitate an increase in volume and the establishment of better conservation techniques for fresh vegetables and fruit, both in Africa and during transport by air.
The commercialisation of NWFPs is undertaken without any advertising policy. The majority of importers and retailers communicate with consumers through word-of-mouth and the display of their products being sold. Many shops, notably those run by Africans, have signs indicating the country of origin of the manager and the origin of the products.
The utilisation of these methods of communication is explained by two main reasons: the absence of large budgets for communication and restriction of the commerce to natives of Central Africa who already know the products well in terms of quality, seasonality, dates of arrival, utilisation and the retailers who sell the desired products. However, it is fair to say that some companies are developing advertising for the products, in particular European importers in Brussels such as “Exotic Foods” and “Tropical Taste”. The products are imported from Central Africa in bulk and packaged in Brussels according to European legislation, indicating the country of origin and the sell-by date. This innovation is used by companies from Cameroon for several products such as ndolé and frozen cassava leaves.
The expansion of the NWFP trade in France and Belgium is encountering several obstacles. In addition to the lack of any regulation in Europe on the importation of these resources, the majority of the impediments are to be found in the exporting countries (Guichard, 1991; Dalle, 1991). For the importers, the main bottlenecks are:
· The absence of any institutional framework for the management of the NWFP markets in Africa;
· The poor organisation of the network in Central Africa;
· The absence of transportation infrastructure (roads) for the rapid shipment of the products between production zones and the nearest major town;
· The lack of cold storage facilities at airports;
· The irregularity of supply and non-compliance of products to European regulations;
· The absence of quality control of the products by the exporters;
· Administrative inefficiency in the export departments.
All importers interviewed are convinced of the continuing growth of the trade in NWFPs from Central Africa. This growth should follow two paths:
· The improvement and development of existing outlets
· Prospecting new outlets.
12.1. Improvement and development of the NWFP market
The improvement of the existing market will have to address certain constraints: harmonising of the regulations on the imports of NWFPs into Europe, regularity of fresh products, increasing the size of NWFP outlets, improvement of packaging and conditioning of products, and of the reception and informing of the customer, development of transformed NWFPs and frozen products, growth of mini-markets and price reduction or discounting. These tasks, to be undertaken in Europe, must be complemented by an organisation of production and the implication of other participants in the network from the Central African countries as well as from Europe (customs, forwarding agents, air transporters, etc.).
Our study reveals that NWFP trade is moving towards other European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. In addition to these three countries, the market should include Portugal, where there is an important community of people from DRC and Angola. The latter, having spent a long time living in DRC during the Angolan war, are consumers of many NWFP products from Central Africa. It would thus be advantageous for importers to target this population settled for the most part in Lisbon.
For some years demand has been growing in Europe, especially in France, for food products from overseas (Volatier, 1997; Gillet, 1997; Normand, 1995; CDI, 1997). This change in the pattern of consumer demand can be explained by globalisation, the frequency of visits made by Europeans to distant countries and the acquisition of new tastes, etc. Studies carried out in France and published in the Ethnic Food News (1997) show that 37% of consumers today buy ethnic foodstuffs. The typical consumer is identified as being young, urban and successful. Professionals thus believe that the market will develop through a generation effect. Consumers who are now 25 years old will doubtless continue to buy for the next 40 or 50 years. Unfortunately, present statistics show an absence of African products in this segment of the market. Considering its size and purchasing power, the European consumer is an important potential outlet for the NWFPs of Central Africa.
Through the initiative of an importer from Cameron, EXODOM, in 1979, the organic market represents the second largest market in France for NWFPs from Central Africa. Imports, for the moment limited to this importer, total 160 tons per year, representing a value of FF
2 000 000. According to the manager of this company, the volume of products imported is far below the present demand, which is increasing constantly in France. Therefore, important market opportunities exist for new suppliers both in France and in other consumer countries (especially the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark). The products imported by EXODOM are destined for French consumers and sold through retail outlets for organic and natural products (specialised shops, organic supermarkets, mini-markets and dietetic or healthfood shops, etc.). For the time being the activities of EXODOM are mainly concentrated in France.
The market for organic products has existed in Europe since the beginning of the 1980s. It is now in constant growth though its size remains modest (Reynaud, 1996; Buley, 1997). Its share of the market is 1% at present and should reach 2.5% in the year 2000 (Bio Convergence, 1997). Moreover, prices are higher than those observed in the conventional market and, depending on the product, they can be three to four times greater. Organic dessert bananas from the forest gardens of Cameroon are sold at a retail price of FF 24 per kg while at the same time dessert bananas of non-organic origin from the same country are sold in retail chains at FF 8. This gap in the market would therefore seem to represent an opportunity for the producers, on the condition that they comply with the regulations for organic agriculture established by the European Union (Reynaud, 1997). These require that all products sold under the organic label be produced by agricultural practices that do not use chemical fertilisers and protect the environment.
The number of African restaurants in France, as well as in other European countries, is rapidly increasing (Leroux, 1996; Defrance, 1996). Despite this, Asian restaurants are still the most popular ethnic restaurants followed by Mexican, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, North African and Indian restaurants and dominate the market for ethnic food. A marketing effort therefore is necessary in order to make known the richness and variety of the African cuisine to the discerning European consumer (Andriamirado, 1997).
Apart from the two existing types of outlets, NWFP foodstuffs could also be directed towards:
· the market for dietetic and health foods;
· the association for fair trade based in Northern Europe.
12.6.1. The market for dietetic and health foods
Like the market for organic products, the demand for dietetic foodstuffs is rapidly expanding in France and elsewhere in Europe. The emergence of this market is explained by the fact that consumers are increasingly concerned with health and quality. Food scandals and the utilisation of transgenics are the main causes for the development of this outlet (Gunning, 1998). Dietetic food products include among other things: artificial sweeteners, substitute foods, appetite suppressing products, isotonic products, isotonic drinks and energising foodstuffs. This represents a turnover of FF 1 719 billion and its growth rate varies between 2 and 5 % per year (ibid.). Products such as the fruits of Pentadiplandra brazzeana, much appreciated by the pygmy children (Hladick, 1989), can be targeted for this market.
The market for energising foodstuffs now represents FF 237 million in 1997 in sales and its growth rate is 5% per year (ibid.). It is in full expansion, notably in so far as energising drinks for the young are concerned. Products such as pepe or mpeve (Monodora myristica or Monodora tenuifolia), the kola nut (Garcinia kola) and mudongo (Aframomum melegueta), used as ingredients in the manufacture of ginger juice much used in Central Africa, could thus be destined for this market.
12.6.2. Fair trade
Created in 1964 in England (EFTA, 1995; Bowen, 1997), fair trade practices are promoted by associations whose aim is to promote the development of autonomy and emancipation through the establishment of commercial relations based on fair trade. These organisations buy directly from the producer of foodstuffs and craft products at reasonable prices. The profits are transferred back to the producers to be invested in the further development of their activities. This concept constitutes an alternative market for several countries in Central Africa. In Europe, there are now some 70 000 merchants involved in this type of trade, which is growing at a rate of 5% per year (Bowen, 1997). A number of co-operatives in Asia and South America market their products by means of this channel.
At the present time three types of outlets for NWFP food products and medical supplies from Central Africa exist in France and Belgium; the ethnic market, the organic market and African restaurants. Constantly developing since their creation, these markets should continue to expand, given the growth of the demand for ethnic and organic products in France and elsewhere in Europe. The growth of catering outside the home should play an important role in the spread of African cuisine. Other emerging markets could also contribute to this trend. These include the healthfood market and the fair trade market. In order to penetrate these profitable markets, the organisation and adaptation of the channels from the producers to the importers is indispensable. An efficient marketing-mix (policy on products, distribution, price and promotion) must be established in Europe by those participants interested in these products.
This work must be complimented in Africa by the organisation of the channels from production through to exportation, and the establishment of an institutional framework promoting NWFPs in Europe. The aim is to ensure that supply and demand develop in parallel and that the products satisfy the expectations of the European clients on the one hand, and improve the income of the producers on the other. This is a big challenge and may be difficult, but it is not insurmountable. Working progressively, it is clear that the NWFPs of Central Africa will be able to follow the commercial path taken by numerous tropical products that are now sold in large quantities on the international market (avocados, mangoes, bananas, etc).
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List of NWFPs imported from Central Africa and sold in Europe (C: Cameroon; CA:Central African Republic; CK: Congo Kinshasa; CB: Congo Brazzaville; G: Gabon).
|Species||Family||Vernacular name||Trade name||Status||Part sold|
|Abelmoschus esculentus (L.)Moench
Afrostyrax lepidophyllus Mildbraed
Amaranthus hybridus L.
Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.
Arachis hypogea L.
Artocarpus communis Forst
Basella alba L.
Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp
Capsicum annuum L.
Carica papaya L.
Cola nitida A. Chev.
Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott.
Cucurbita maxima Duch
Corchorus olitorius Per ex DC
Cymbopogon citratus (DC) STAPF
Dacryodes edulis (G. Don) Lam.
Elaeis guinensis Jacq
Garcinia kola Haeckel
Hibiscus sabdariffa L.
Hua gabonii Pierre
Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam
Irvingia gabonensis Baillon
Lippia adoensis Hochst
Luffa cylindrica M. Roem
Mangifera indica L.
Manihot esculenta Grantz
Mondia whitei Skeels
Monodora miristica L.
Monodora tenuifolia Benth
Ocimum gratissimum (L.) Forsk
Persea americana L.
Ricinodendron heudelotii (Baill) Pax
Solanum nigrum L.
Saccharum officinarum L.
Spondias cytherea Sonn.
Tetrapleura tetraptera Tauba
Xanthosoma sagittifolia Schott
Xylopia aethiopica A. Rich
|dongo dongo (CK,CB)
m’bongo (C), Nzo za nungu (CB)
bitekuteku (CK), badi (CB)
nguba (CK,CB), groundnut (C)
petit haricot (C)
pilipili (CK), pidi pidi (CB), piment
makazu(CK,CB), noix de cola (C,CA)
m’bika (CK,CB), graine de courge, C
dongo dongo ya makasa (CK,CB)
m’bila (CK,CB), noix de palme (C,G)
petit cola (C), démarreur (C)
ngai ngai (CK,CB)
m’bala (CK,CB), patate douce (C,CA)
matembele banki (CK)
liniuka (CK), nsania (C),
saka saka (CB), pondu (CK)
mantsusu (CB), lumbalumba (CK)
djansang, dansan (C)
koko (CK,CB), sugar cane
macabo (C), taro (CK,CB)
graine de courge
noix de palme
fruit, oil, beverage