The specialty foods market is hot in the U.S. right now. Americans have become savvier about nutrition, flavor and processing. They want to know that their food is safe and that it was manufactured according to global best practices, including worker welfare. When they look at food labels, they want to see fewer ingredients, no chemicals and transparency in origin; and, they are insatiable. The U.S. specialty foods market welcomes more than 40,000 new products every year.
East African food manufacturers have numerous specialty products that could meet American demand, but they need to increase their transparency and identify the value add in their products. That’s where the Hub comes in.
On June 8, the Hub’s specialty food advisor and Simone Cormier, a chef and spice specialist from U.S. retailer Whole Foods, held a one-day workshop on “providing technical support for exporters.” USAID trade advisors, industry specialists from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and representatives from Kenyan government agencies, such as the Agriculture and Food Authority, participated. They learned about the food environment in the U.S. – how to tell trends from fads – and how to identify value-added products and export-ready enterprises. They also gained a firmer understanding of food distribution and exporting under AGOA.
Why it matters? There are now 12 new individuals, based in business-focused Kenyan agencies, who can help build local capacity to identify specialty products and help manufactures engage with the U.S. market.
"I now feel better equipped to help the businesses that come to KAM (Kenya Association of Manufacturers)."
"They helped us demystify the U.S. market and pinpoint key products from Kenya and East Africa that would be good for the U.S. market," said Abdul Kamau, Sector Officer at Kam.