Knowledge for a sustainable world

Aurélie Bechoff, Ben Bennett

NRI is implementing a European Union funded research project to 're-engineer' traditional African foods for international markets. Along with partners in France, Portugal, Italy, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, Madagascar, Egypt and South Africa, NRI looks at how selected African products could be improved to fit into the European market and meet consumer preference.

The project is called the African Food Tradition Revisited by Research (AFTER).

As part of this research, Ben Bennett and Aurélie Bechoff were in Paris last week to do a market survey in order to understand how retailers might respond to the re-engineered African food products. They visited targeted food retailers in Paris who sell African food to Africans or Exotic/World foods to a wider range of consumers. Re-engineered products such as Bissap, a hibiscus based beverage from Senegal, and Akpan, a fermented health drink from Benin, were presented to the shop owners and questions were asked about the 4 'P's (Product; Place; Price; Promotion).

Aurélie said; "I enjoyed visiting the retailers, they were very enthusiastic about our project because they can see the potential benefit to their businesses". Ben commented; "the results of this study will allow a better assessment of the likely market with respect to these products and will greatly increase the chances of their successful European launch. In the longer term, demand for novel African foods may create much-needed jobs and livelihood opportunities".