A small hand press, a juice container, another to throw the peels and voila. In Abidjan, each crossroads, each alley has its natural drink stand at 500 CFA francs (0.76 euros). Along with cocoa, fruits are one of the main riches of Côte d’Ivoire, the leading West African exporter of fresh mangoes (32,800 tonnes in 2021) and the leading African supplier of bananas. What remains is to develop an ecosystem for processing these products on site – a transition that is just beginning.
Ivorians already drink more fruit than they eat. But if the production of small volumes for immediate consumption requires little technicality, industrial manufacturing requires equipment, infrastructure and a certain know-how to manage fruit stocks, produce the juice and, above all, preserve it. . “There are two ways to do it, summarizes Elie Chaker, CEO of the Ivorian tropical products (IPT). Either we transform the fruit directly into natural juice, or we develop a nectar based on concentrate. The first option is better in taste and health, but it is also the most complicated for producers, and therefore the most expensive. »
Before opening to the general public in 2018, the IPT company remained for a long time in the niche of high-end hotels in Abidjan, Accor and Pullman in the lead. Since then, it has been competing on supermarket shelves with ever more competitors: the natural juices of Africa Foodies Industries; the Cêbon range from Trafrule, which makes both juice and nectar; the Présséa brand, from the Senegalese group Kirène, which focuses on nectar; and above all a pillar of the sector, the Ivorio natural juice cans.
The latter reigned supreme on the market in the 1980s. If the time of the quasi-monopoly of Ivorio is over, the change of scale remains complicated for small entrepreneurs. “For the machines, everything comes from outside and is heavily taxed, and the transport is extremely long and expensive, explains Elie Chaker. State subsidies and appropriate training are needed. We had to train all our staff on the spot using the technical data sheets and the companies from which we bought the machines… Today, we master all our procedures, but it was a long-term job. »
Even when the factories are in place, the raw material may run out. A problem recently encountered by Trafrule, whose processing unit was inaugurated in 2021 and has an hourly production capacity of 5 tonnes of pineapple juice, 10 tonnes of mango juice and 15 tonnes of tomato paste .
You have 56.55% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.