AGOA workshop addresses two constraints to Ivorian exports: packaging and labeling

The May 5 workshop was aimed at helping Ivorian companies better understand packaging and labelling requirements to access the U.S. market. Photo credit: Ms. Jessie Lafouracde, the Trade Hub.

On May 5, fifty-six Ivorian processors and representatives of agricultural enterprises met at the Azalai Hotel in Abidjan for training on U.S. packaging and labeling requirements. Co-hosted with the Association pour la Promotion des Exportations de Cote d’Ivoire (APEX-CI) and chaired by Ms. Rebecca Levy, Economic Growth Officer at USAID Cote d’Ivoire, the workshop is part of the Trade Hub’s outreach series to promote duty-free exports to the U.S. under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by educating agro-industry stakeholders on AGOA and other trade-related topics to boost exports to the U.S market.

“Since 2014, USAID through the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub project supports companies in the process of exporting to the U.S. market,” said Ms. Rebecca Levy. “This training will help you to better understand the requirements to access the U.S. market.”

In Côte d’Ivoire, packaging and labeling remain a major constraint for Ivorian companies looking to export and sell their products to European and U.S. markets. Mr. Kenneth S. Marsh and Mr. Thomas A. Butterworth, two U.S. experts — one in food technology, the other in packaging — addressed this topic at the training, as well as with select companies in the days preceding the workshop. From May 1-6, the experts met with five cereals processing companies and one natural honey producing company to provide technical training on U.S. food standards, including updates to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Among the companies was ETIMEX, a firm that attended previous AGOA workshop trainings through the ATRC and is now exporting approximately $467,500 or 950 MT worth of cereals to the U.S. under AGOA.

At the workshop, Mr. Marsh and Mr. Butterworth presented on food security, packaging quality, and information to include on the label; client satisfaction; and compliance with FDA regulations. They also focused on the FDA’s new FSMA as a requirement to export to the U.S., and covered its registration process and to whom it applies. The FSMA requires all domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. to register with FDA. There are some exemptions for primary production farms, retail stores, restaurants, non-profit food stores, and fishing vessels.

“This training is a significant add-on for companies like us that are exporting to the U.S. market,” said Mrs. Marie-Cecile Assovie, CEO of Wellness Food, an Ivorian company that processes moringa. “I benefited from a similar training in 2012, and realized that the nutrition facts size was updated.”

Next AGOA events include a workshop in Dakar, Senegal on May 24, 2017 where private sector companies and some public agencies will discuss opportunities offered under AGOA and how to take advantage of AGOA.

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West Africa Trade and Investment Hub - Accra, Ghana - contact@watradehub.com
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