Markets and Prospects for African Exports of Fruits and Vegetables to European Countries

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Ohio State University. Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics

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Structural adjustment programs and an increasing debt burden have put pressure on African countries to increase their export earnings. This has led to increased interest in nontraditional and high-value exports, such as fresh and preserved fruits and vegetables. Markets for offseason fruits and vegetables, and for tropical fruits, seem to be expanding. Nevertheless, African producers are faced with increasing competition. This paper summarizes the major trends in the principal markets for African horticultural exports, and discusses the likely impact of increased competition and changes in trading structures. Market liberalization within the EU, and the expansion of Union membership, threaten traditional trading relations between its members and African producers of fruits and vegetables. Increased investment in fruit and vegetable production in the European Union and elsewhere are likely to further increase the level of competition. For countries with existing export industries, the appropriate strategy would probably involve investments in improved efficiency, such as improvements in the infrastructure for bringing products to the point of embarkation and for storing them prior to shipment. Countries trying to develop new export products must try to identify niche markets which they can address, based on climate, seasonality or cost factors.