Supermarkets More Dependent On African Fruit And Vegetables
According to Geoffrey White, CEO of pan African investment company, Lonrho, the supermarket chains of the world are becoming more and more dependent on Africa as a source of fruit and vegetables.
“Historically Africa has always been dependent on the rest of the world. The balance is slowly changing where we are seeing the biggest retailers in world saying, ‘we’ve got a whole list of produce that we need to source from Africa because we know that in five years our shelves will be empty if we don’t engage with African agriculture.’ And that is them coming to Africa, rather than the other way around.”
He accepts that there are barriers to trading widely with Africa – it is, for example, still the most expensive place in the world to deliver logistics and materials. Despite this, however, White said Lonrho is engaged in what he calls “quasi-manufacturing” of agricultural produce. Value is added to fruit and vegetables, which are then exported to international retailers.
“The added value is done in Africa. So if you go to my facility in southern Africa, one day it looks like Tesco, the next day it looks like Marks & Spencer. Within Africa we are date stamping it, pricing it, if you want it chopped and made into a fruit salad, we can do all that within Africa. That is very different to maybe ten years ago when all Africa exported was whole fruit and veg … and then added value [such as] chopping and packing was done outside of Africa. All that added value is now done within the continent. I think you will see more and more of that as the economy grows,” he explained.
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