Business News of 2014-09-02

Lack of certification hampers shea butter export

Shea butter producers in the country are unable to export their products to Turkey due to the inability of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to provide them with appropriate certification for entry into Turkey.

This is in spite of the overwhelming interest that the products have generated among Turkish consumers, resulting in cosmetic, animal feed producers and pharmaceutical companies in that country making orders from Ghana.

The Daily Graphic found that the certificates included one that would prove that shea and its derivatives are organic and do not include artificial additives. The other would show the origin of the shea tree and the nuts from which the butter and related products were produced.

Given that Turkish customs officials have been directed not to allow imports without such certificates into their country, shea producers such as Alagie and Fati's Company Limited, one of the biggest producers and exporters of the product in the country, said they had had their shipments detained and orders cancelled as attempts to secure the two certificates from the standards authority failed.

"I went to the standards authority and showed them what the Turkish people were requesting but they told me they don't have the machine to conduct that test. They have one of the machines, but it’s broken down," the Managing Director of Alagie and Fati's Company, Mr Allagie Sarjo Jallow, said in Turkey.

Mr Jallow's company participated in the Izmir International Trade Fair in 2013 from which interest in the company's products and shea in general from Ghana in that country started picking up.

The company is also among 13 others from the food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, sports and handicrafts sectors participating in this year's event.

The other participating companies include Daysah Ventures, Pure Company, Regality Ventures, Krypton Global, HPW Fresh and Dry, Alpha Samuelson Enterprise, Paku Enterprise, Yenok Limited, Chocho Industries and Veronica Ayando Enterprise.

The fair opened on August 29 and would run till September 3 during which period participating companies from across the world would showcase their products and services to the dozens of people who would throng the fairgrounds daily.

As of the second day of the exhibition, Mr Jallow said, he had sold about 25 cartons of his products as some of his customers rushed for their share before it ran out of supply.

"They are buying very quick because they know when the fair ends, they will not be able to get it," he said.

The GSA's inability to provide the shea companies with the requisite certificates has constrained the growth of businesses in that segment of the market.

Alagie and Fati's Company, which currently exports the product to Saudi Arabia, said it could have done twice its current export numbers to Turkey, had it not been for the certification challenge.

The company currently exports a total of 90,000 kilogrammes of shea to Saudi Arabia every month and that together with other exports and retail in the local market fetches the company some US$140 million in sales annually.

"If Turkey opens up, I can do double of what am doing in Saudi, and that will give the country more revenue," Mr Jallow said.

The current challenge with the shea export to Turkey also denies the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), and the nation as a whole, millions of US dollars, which would have helped increase earnings from non-traditional exports (NTEs).

Earnings from the sector was US$2.46 billion in 2013, below a target of US$3.3 billion.

The General Manager of the GEPA, Mr Stephen Normeshie, admitted that interest in Ghana's shea products in Turkey was high but constrained by the challenges with the certification.

The GEPA, which is in charge of the promotion of NTEs in the country, is now working with the shea companies and the standards authority of the two countries to help ease the challenges to pave the way for a smooth trade in cosmetics.

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