On November 2, the Hub held a workshop in Antananarivo, Madagascar to further its technical assistance for Malagasy specialty food companies looking to export. The workshop came on the tail end of a Hub-supported U.S. buyer’s mission to the country with Chef Simone Cormier, Treasurer of the American Spice Trade Association and an experienced specialty foods buyer with extensive knowledge of U.S. demand for spices, dried fruits, nuts, and products in the organic sector.
Above, Hasina Raveloarijaona of Madepices holds a small bag of Malagasy pink peppercorn.
Chef Simone shared information on current American trends and gave advice on what Malagasy crops could find a niche in the expansive U.S. specialty foods market. She highlighted the “foodie” craze in the U.S. where individuals exchange gorgeous food photos on Instagram and follow celebrity chefs.
The U.S. market welcomes more than 40,000 new products every year. If specialty food companies want to expand, there is no larger market. But, the U.S. market is also demanding, with numerous regulations and consumer needs.
Hub specialty food advisors are helping Malagasy companies to navigate the regulations and to understand buyer and consumer demands.
“I now understand the expectations from the U.S. market,” said Philippe Razanakolona after the workshop.
Mr. Razanakolona would like to export organic rice to the U.S. He has a strong production model but now needs his organic certification. He thinks he can compete with “Asian red rice.”
Hasine Raveloarijaona of Madepices also has an incredible product, including Malagasy wild black pepper, but he too needs more certifications. A Hub advisor has already begun to work with Mr. Raveloarijaona on HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) requirements, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture require for several food products and which many U.S. buyers desire regardless of product. Similar to Mr. Razanakolona, Mr. Raveloarijaona is also confident that if he can meet U.S. requirements, U.S. buyers will like his product.
The Hub agrees. Malagasy specialty food companies have strong product, now they need the certifications and the buyer linkages. The Hub is helping with both of these needs.