As millions of people around the world look for healthier and organic foods, fruits are growing in demand both locally and globally. Apart from the millions of fruits that we eat at home in Nigeria, many of us do not notice the huge volumes of bananas, pineapples, mangoes and several other tropical fruit varieties that are shipped to Europe, the Middle East and USA every week from African countries. Africa has a unique advantage to profit from this very lucrative market for tropical fruits which grow abundantly on our continent.

Why is the market potential for tropical fruits huge for Africa?

1. Africa has a strong geographic advantage

More than 70 percent of fruits consumed on earth come from the tropics, which is why they’re called ‘tropical fruits’. A very large portion of our dear continent is located in the tropics – a region that enjoys all-year-round sunlight and has a perfect climate for fruits to thrive and grow abundantly.As a result, Africa remains one of the world’s largest producers of some of the most popular fruits on the planet – citrus, pineapples, bananas and many others. Despite our continent’s huge potential to produce fruits for the world, a lot of fruits grown in many African countries are consumed locally. Because fruits are highly perishable (spoil very quickly) and many farmers have little access to good storage facilities, Africa currently exports less than 5 percent of the fruits it produces every year.

2. A growing demand for healthier and organic foods

Due to the revelations by modern science about the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, millions of people around the world (especially in developed countries) now include some form of fruit in their daily diets. Apart from their rich nutrient, mineral and vitamin content, fruits are now known to lower blood pressure; reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; and help to lower the risk of eye and digestive system problems.

The growing consciousness in Western countries to adopt fruit-rich diets is one of the major drivers of the growing demand for tropical fruits which are abundant in Africa. As a result, countries like Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Kenya earn millions of dollars every year from fruit exports to Europe, the Middle East and USA.

According to the World Health Organisation, millions of people around the world still die prematurely from diseases associated with low fruit consumption. While this is sad, it signals a promising and lucrative growth in the demand for African tropical fruits now and in the future as more people add fruits to their diets.

3. A rapidly growing fruit juice industry

Did you know that each year, Nigeria alone imports orange concentrates worth over US$140 million for local fruit juice production? The global market for fruit and vegetable juices is growing fast and is forecast to exceed 70 billion liters by the year 2017. This rapid growth is driven by a rising preference by customers for healthy drinks (like fruit juices) over soft drinks (such as carbonated drinks – like Coke and Pepsi). There is also a rising demand for organic, super fruit and 100 percent natural fruit juices without any sweeteners and preservatives.This means that in the very near future, producers will require more raw fruits to make a glass of juice.

As more manufacturers shop for fruits to produce more juice to serve the growing demand, Africa will become a huge supplier due to the abundance of fruits that grow on the continent. This added demand from fruit juice manufacturers is allowing farmers across Africa to process their harvested fruits into less perishable concentrates thereby reducing spoilage and earning them more money.

In the Mango section of this article, there is an interesting story (and a short video) about a Sierra-Leone based company that buys raw mangoes from the local community and converts it to concentrates used to make fruit juice. Make sure you look out for it…

It’s time to meet the fruits!

Now that we know why the market potential for African tropical fruits is huge and growing, it’s time to meet some of our top-selling exotic fruits that have achieved worldwide celebrity status for their taste, high nutritional content and value.

Source: small starters