News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Study explores market opportunities for value-added beef products in East Africa

Selling meat in a Kenyan butchery. Improving the quality and safety of beef sold by small-scale traders in East Africa will enable them take advantage of emerging niche markets and increase their incomes. (Photo: ILRI)

According to a May 2011 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), annual meat consumption per person will more than double in sub-Saharan Africa from 2000 to 2050, leading to a doubling of total meat consumption by 2050.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between 1997-99 and 2030, annual meat consumption in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) will increase from 9.4 to 13.4 kg per person.

Growth in human population, increasing incomes and changing consumer tastes are among the main drivers of this rise in demand for high-quality meat products in much of the developing world, a trend that is expected to continue.

In eastern Africa, the growing demand for high-quality meat products presents a ripe opportunity for livestock producers to take advantage of the emerging markets for value-added meat products. However, several institutional barriers, such as unfavourable policies and poorly enforced regulations, limit the extent to which small-scale meat producers and market agents in the region can benefit from these opportunities.

To address this and other related issues, a collaborative project, Exploiting market opportunities for value-added dairy and meat products in the Eastern and Central Africa region, was carried out in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania in 2006 and in Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in 2010 to characterize value chains for conventional and niche markets for dairy and meat products.

The project aimed at enhancing the capacity of small- and medium-scale enterprises in the East Africa region to effectively meet consumer demand for safe, high-quality dairy and meat products that meet national regulatory requirements.

The study examined consumers' perspectives on meat quality and safety and found that high-income consumers prefer to buy meat from upper-end markets like priority stores and supermarkets. They associate well packaged meat, clean premises and veterinary stamped-products with good quality and safety, and are indeed willing to pay a premium for these attributes. On the other hand, low-income consumers mostly purchase their meat products from local butcheries.

Roast beef

Selling of roast beef is an increasing trend motivated by rising consumer demand for ready-to eat roast beef. For example, in Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan, the roast meat (nyama choma) sold in butcheries and bars is a growing preference by both the indigenous and foreign consumers. In Uganda, vending of roadside roast beef known as muchomo is a growing trend on highway spots outside the capital city, Kampala.

The different ways in which the beef is roasted, dressed and sold varies by country. However, some consumers still question the safety and quality of beef as it goes through the processes of roasting, dressing and selling. However, if sellers can provide assurance of quality and safety then there will be demand from the high-income consumers.

Therefore, to increase the sales of value-added products, sellers of roast beef should adhere to national regulations for quality and safety and respond to consumer preferences. The growing trend of niche markets running along the spectrum of high, medium and low income consumers should also be explored as an opportunity for increasing sales through product value addition.

Regulators and policy perspectives

With regard to the policy and regulatory environment, the study identified a need for greater harmonization of regulations among countries in the eastern Africa region in order to enhance effective service provision to the beef sector.

The study proposes that a comprehensive beef policy for the region be drawn up to guide the implementation and enforcement of regulations aimed at ensuring the quality and safety of beef products, particularly those sold by small-scale traders.

For more information about this study, please contact Dr Amos Omore of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (a.omore @

Story adapted from a brochure, Quality and safety of small-scale beef products in East and Central Africa, produced by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Study examines quality and safety of East Africa's milk and dairy products

Training and certification schemes for small-scale sellers of milk and dairy products in Eastern Africa can lead to better milk quality and help traders benefit from the growing demand for value-added dairy products. (Photo: ILRI)
Most sub-Saharan countries, including those in Eastern and Central Africa, are net importers of dairy products, with most of these products being imported from Europe and South Africa. In South Sudan, nearly all value-added dairy products are imported. At the same time, there is a growing demand for high-quality dairy products by the growing population and the tourist market.

The unmet demand is providing opportunities for value addition. However, significant technical and institutional barriers continue to limit the exploitation of these benefits by small-scale producers and small- and medium-scale enterprises engaged in value addition activities.

A study characterizing value chains for both conventional and niche markets for dairy and meat products was carried out in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania in 2006 and in Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in 2010.

The main objective of the project, Exploiting market opportunities for value-added dairy and meat products in the Eastern and Central Africa region, was to enhance the capacity of small- and medium-scale enterprises to meet demand for quality and safety of the various value chain actors and regulatory requirements.

Major concerns and opportunities for value addition are presented here to stimulate action by producers, processors and traders on key issues regarding the quality and safety of milk and dairy products produced and marketed by small and medium enterprises in the eastern Africa region.

Consumer perceptions 

The issue of milk quality evokes different perceptions and reactions among different categories of consumers. Over 80% of the milk is sold raw (unpasteurized). Colour, smell, thickness, perceived fat content and cleanliness of the milk handlers, milk vessels and premises from where milk is sold are some of the most important criteria used by those purchasing raw milk.

Adulteration of milk, often judged by observations on thickness and physical appearance, is a major food safety concern to consumers, counter-balanced only by personal judgment and mutual trust between buyer and seller. Most adults consume fresh milk in the form of tea or makyato (Ethiopia) while children drink fresh milk directly after boiling.

The quality of packaging, presence of quality certification mark, expiry date and reliability of supplier are very important considerations to consumers who buy value-added dairy products such as pasteurized milk, yoghurt, fermented (sour) milk, cheese and butter.

More than 50% of consumers interviewed considered the quality of packaging to be an important measure of the quality and safety of products they bought and would be willing to pay more for well-packaged milk. This is not surprising as most of them were already purchasing considerably more expensive but better packaged imported dairy products.

Between the milk producers and consumers, various market intermediaries including informal milk traders, vendors, hawkers and formal dairy chain actors such as co-operative societies and processors play various roles in transforming milk into value-added products.

All processors consider milk producers as their primary clients. The primary concern of the informal traders is the quantity of milk supplied to them which can vary a lot by season, especially where traditional pastoralists are the major suppliers. Adulteration with water is a common problem especially in the dry season.

Milk quality

The main concern of the organized sector in all the six countries is the quality and hygienic level of milk handling. The use of plastic vessels for carrying milk is a major source of contamination as they are often poorly designed, not made of food-grade material and difficult to clean.

Most processors use lactometers to exclude heavily adulterated milk with a common lactometer reading cut-off point of 26. Seasonal fluctuation in the quantity, quality and prices of raw milk is yet another area of concern for processors.

Large hotels and supermarkets often demand quality and safety for value added products that are properly and attractively packaged and are endorsed by quality control bodies such as national bureaus of standards. Some high-end supermarkets demand packaged products to have bar codes for ease of sales and stock control.

Very few small- and medium-scale enterprises meet these demands for quality and safety. In some cases, there were poorly designed or inappropriately, inadequately, or erroneously labelled containers and wrappings of butter and cheese.

These shortcomings have tended to degrade the quality and safety perception of such products by potential buyers or, more importantly, acted as barriers to accessing high-end supermarket shelves in some of the major cities of the six countries.

All countries have food standards bodies and regulations that prescribe hygienic and food safety standards for milk and dairy products. Nevertheless, informal trade in raw milk is predominant in all countries and compliance by small- and medium-scale enterprises is still low.

High fees for quality testing and certification; lack of quality control facilities; the high cost of packaging materials; high cost of appropriate milk handling equipment such as milk cans and milk coolers; and lack of appropriate knowledge and skills were cited as major barriers.

Actions to address some of these constraints could include training and offering group concessions in quality certification schemes.

For more information about this study, please contact Dr Amos Omore of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (a.omore @

Story adapted from a brochure, Quality and safety of value added milk and dairy products, produced by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).

You may also be interested in these earlier blog posts on Livestock Markets Digest

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ILRI-led food safety project holds forum to synthesize research findings

Pork and beef sellers in Xipamanine Market, Maputo, Mozambique. The ILRI-led Safe Food, Fair Food project is adapting risk-based approaches to improve the safety of informally sold livestock products in sub-Saharan Africa. (Photo: ILRI/Mann).

The Safe Food, Fair Food project begins its final synthesis meeting today 13 September 2011 at the Addis Ababa campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), bringing together 25 MSc and PhD students from 11 different countries to present their research findings and draft/completed theses.

The BMZ-funded project is working to improve the management of food safety in general and the safety of livestock products in particular by adapting risk-based approaches to informal markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

The three-year project, which is scheduled to end in December 2011, is being implemented in eight countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, the Republic of South Africa and Tanzania) in collaboration with universities and national research institutes.

During the two-day meeting, country coordinators will share information on feedback to communities and synthesize the results of the national impact assessment studies. In addition, a writeshop will be held to collaboratively develop a project synthesis book to facilitate dissemination of the research findings to wider audiences. Plans for individual publications and future research activities will also be discussed.

The meeting’s activities will be facilitated by graduate fellow Kristina Roesel and veterinary epidemiologist Kohei Makita, both of whom are working with ILRI's Market Opportunities theme.

For more information, please visit the project website.

Friday, September 09, 2011

International congress to discuss impact of zoonotic diseases in developing countries

Maasai father and son tend to their cattle in their paddock in Kitengela
A Maasai father and his son tend to their cattle herd. Addressing the impact of zoonotic diseases on humans, animals and the environment will benefit smallholder livestock keepers in developing countries. (Photo: ILRI/Mann).

Regional and international experts on public health and infectious diseases will meet at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15-17 September 2011 for the first international congress on pathogens at the human-animal interface (ICOPHAI) to deliberate on the impact of infectious diseases and explore the limitations and needs of developing countries.

The congress will have a keynote speaker on One Health with a focus on zoonoses (animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans) as well as plenary speakers in the following eight thematic areas:

  • Emerging zoonoses and wildlife interface 
  • Drug discovery and antimicrobial resistance 
  • Respiratory diseases and global impact 
  • Parasitic zoonoses and environment 
  • Enteric food and waterborne infections 
  • Genomics and molecular epidemiology 
  • Immunology and vaccine development 
  • Policy, capacity building and other significant issues

Participants are expected to include academicians, government and industry research scientists, policymakers, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

The conference is organized by a consortium of regional and international academic and research organizations comprising:

  • Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  • Chiang Mai University, Thailand
  • Federal University of ParanĂ , Brazil
  • Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • International Livestock Research Institute 
  • Kenya Medical Research Institute
  • National Semi-Arid Institute, Brazil
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
  • University of Gondar, Ethiopia
  • University of Nairobi, Kenya

The Market Opportunities Theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) will be represented at the meeting by Dr Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and leader of ILRI's research team on animal health, food safety and zoonoses, and Dr Kohei Makita, veterinary epidemiologist on joint appointment at ILRI and Rakuno Gakuen University in Japan.

Dr Makita is scheduled to present a paper on "Use of participatory methods in food safety risk analysis of informally marketed livestock products in sub-Saharan Africa: Advantages and challenges".

For more information, please visit the ICOPHAI 2011 website.