African Local Spice: The Growing Business Opportunity in Africa


The demand for spice is as old as man. From time immemorial, man has used different spices for a variety of things. In culinary, spices are used for coloring, preserving and flavoring food. They are also being used for fragrance, medication, cosmetics and spiritual rituals; thus, the search abounds. With the demand comes the business opportunity in spice.  Africa plays a significant role in the spice industry. Beyond being an importer, Africans are beginning to explore the possibility, trading their unique African local spices. Countries like Ethiopia, Madagascar, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania are leading producers of African spices. Although, this is not comparable to the production and exportation of spices in Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand), who are top players in the spice market worldwide.

Going Down The African Spices Root

In case you are not sure of what spices are, Spices are dried parts of plants that usually have robust and distinctive smells. They can come from the seeds, fruit, roots, bark, stems, or flowers of a plant. Africans grow spices in their continent, some of which are indigenous, and some are not. The indigenous ones include African locust beans, African nutmeg, Guinea pepper, African bird pepper, West African black pepper, Negro pepper, Alligator Pepper, etc.

The location of the continent has long put it on the part of merchants from various nations who sought after trade routes to places like the Spice Island of the East. Some of these traders abode on the island in East Africa, and while waiting for favorable trade winds, they began to grow valued seedlings on the islands of East Africa. Thus, Africans got precious foreign spices’ seedlings to grow and domesticate. The spice plantations in Zanzibar and Madagascar were born out of this, and the spices were soon added to the indigenous African species and became African.

African Spice Business Opportunity in Africa

The possibility of continuous growth in the demand for spices worldwide is very high. Noticeable lifestyle trends like healthy living, crave for a new taste, the popularity of indigenous foods are pointers to this. The substitution of unhealthy food ingredients for natural ones and the preference of organic food above processed food is gaining popularity. Thus, African spices business have growth potentials.

Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Tanzania are already earning significant foreign exchange through spices exportation. The abundance of sun and rain all through the year aids cultivation. More African countries explore spice cultivation because of the climate advantage. Some Africans that do not cultivate buys the fresh or half-processed spices from farmers and re-sell to processing facilities while some others blend, mix, package and brand spices, making names locally and internationally. Opportunities lie in here for innovative Africans.

Here are stories of some small scale African spice business kings and queens

Feed Green Ethiopia Exports Company is own by Senai Wolderufael, an Ethiopian Business Administration graduate who exports popular Ethiopian spice blends to Europe and the United States. Shiro, Mitmita, Korarima, and Berbere are some of his company’s top-selling spice-blends enjoyed by Ethiopians in the diaspora.

‘Omo Alata’, a Nigerian food flavor company own by Kosope Ladipo-Ajai deals in producing spice mix and blends for local Nigerian dishes.  Kosope quit her airline job to begin OmoAlata company with a business partner.

Essie Spice is another household name in Ghana and beyond. It produces native African spices blend for culinary purposes. Essie Bartels, 33, sources her ingredients from small scale spice producers.

An innovative and enterprising African do not need to be unemployed for long.  Since Africa is blessed with valued spices and condiments with good climate condition for cultivation, it makes the commencement of the business with small capital quite easy. The lifestyle trend is increasing the global demand for spices, and some African entrepreneurs are already steeping in to meet the needs even in small/medium scales. Why not tap into this business opportunity and keep your cash registers ringing?