In developing countries, establishing a strong food value chain (FVC) — from production to processing, distribution to consumption — contributes significantly to the growth of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the food industry.
Recognising this importance, Saraya Co., Ltd. cooperated on a subsidised project with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to develop African markets through the region’s food value chain. The resulting effort is called “Food Value Chain Project-Based Market Development in Africa.” We asked Saraya Co., Ltd. about the background of the project and their plans for the future.
(GFSI Japan Local Group Communication WG - hereinafter as GFSI) First of all, please tell us about the background of the work you began in Africa and the process of applying for this subsidised project with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
(Saraya Co., Ltd. - hereinafter as Saraya) - We co-sponsored UNICEF’s "National Handwashing Campaign" in Africa as a 60th-anniversary project and began our CSR activity as a charity program. Since then, we have decided to develop a CSR called “Sustainable Solutions for Social Issues” and launched a Uganda-based affiliate in 2011, which became the start of our business in Africa.
From the start until now, we have been working with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) mainly on medical hygiene. In the case of Uganda, as we dealt mainly with public institutions such as public hospitals, the speed of business was controlled with the national budget in mind. Under such conditions, there was no market for food hygiene in Africa, so we decided to start another pillar of food hygiene at this overseas affiliate, which resulted in applying for this project.
(GFSI) What issues are currently impacting the food value chain in Uganda?
(Saraya) There is neither an idea of food hygiene among the general public in Uganda nor any technology for preserving food. Therefore, people eat only freshly-prepared, warm food.
Also, the only export product from Uganda is a freshwater fish called Nile perch, which is processed and exported to Europe; however, there is a large gap in market access, as HACCP certification is the essential requirement from importing countries. We would like to promote our business with the aim of raising the level of food hygiene, at least at city restaurants used by middle-class citizens as well as at modern supermarkets.
(GFSI) What is the goal of this project?
(Saraya) Since it is only a one-year project, it is not possible to establish a cold chain or a road to HACCP certification at this time. We are currently conducting a "Cold Chain Survey" on the conditions of fish harvesting as well as distribution in Kenya. Furthermore, in collaboration with Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, we are promoting the development of refrigeration technology, which leads to applied research on highly value-added food processing. Because there is no food processing industry here, we believe that we can create business opportunities by contributing to the establishment of such an industry. To do this, we will combine business with a diversification of primary industry as promoted in Japan. It will be a long-term story. Our goal for this year is to bring up hygiene standards at the test kitchens of Japanese restaurants in Uganda to the level of ordinary Japanese restaurants in Japan. The first priority is to meet the preconditions of hygiene management at a small scale. In the future, we expect that it will be possible to establish a cold chain or obtain HACCP certification.
(GFSI) What relationship do you have with local government?
(Saraya) Since various players from the public administration also participate in this project, we hope to work more closely with them.
There are cases in which restaurants are subject to unannounced inspection by the authorities, and they sometimes have to face an interruption of business even when it is not clear as to which exact criteria are being audited. From now on, if we can advance the current standard checks and reinforce the missing criteria together with the regulatory affairs, we think that we can get more involved in local business as a food consultant.
(GFSI) What are your goals for the future?
(Saraya) We would like to expand the food processing industry and increase the export of highly value-added processed products, as there are almost no export products. As national policies promote fish in Kenya and livestock in Uganda, positive comments have been received from the fisheries cooperatives and the agricultural cooperatives. While HACCP certification is also required, we would like to decide with the regulatory affairs on how to proceed in terms of the schedule and the steps to take, aiming ultimately to reach the level of Western countries.
(GFSI) What are the benefits to each stakeholder (logistics, restaurants and customers)?
(Saraya) By introducing product know-how and kitchen training, we helped our showcase restaurant become the first in Uganda and all of East Africa to maintain hygiene management at the level of Japan. We invite the local government as well as restaurant workers there and utilise it as an education enlightenment platform, which we believe will lead to an increased level of food hygiene and food safety in Uganda.
In addition, if the processed food industry progresses, selling souvenir products at stores or supplying prepared dishes to nearby restaurants supermarkets can be considered. In the future, we can plan a joint food processing facility on the coast, where Kenyan fish is available. It is not only difficult to secure fish throughout the year, but there is also no tradition of eating fish in Kenya. This means that the size of domestic market is still small due to supply and demand, so we are thinking about creating both upstream and downstream points in the value chain.
(GFSI)) How do you see the future of establishing and evaluating a cold chain?
(Saraya) To give you an example, we have started a test transport to send only the required amount of ingredients to Japanese restaurants.
However, since there are not currently enough materials to build a cold chain, establishing a business such as a cooperative delivery system may precede that stage.
(GFSI) Thank you very much for sharing this valuable story.
Saraya East Africa Project: https://www.saraya.com/news/2017/112808.html
Introduction video: https://sdgs.saraya.com/
Saraya Co., Ltd.
Address: 2-2-8 Yuzato, Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 546-0013, Japan
Saraya Manufacturing (U) Ltd.: P.O. Box 23740, Kampala, Uganda Plot 6C, Seventh Street, SMS Plaza, Industrial Area, Kampala, Uganda
This post was written and contributed by:
ITOCHU‐SHOKUHIN Co., Ltd,
Quality Assurance Division
GFSI Japan Local Group, Communication WG