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Opportunities and Challenges for Seafood Exports to Ethiopia

17 December 2013
BordBia

Ethiopia, the second biggest market in Africa with an estimated population of 85 million people and a GDP growth of seven per cent, has a deficit in seafood. Demand is growing fast and domestic landings cannot meet local needs of seafood consumption, reports Claudia Saumell, Africa Manager, Irish Food Board.

With no coastline and no fish farming industry, Ethiopia fish production depends on the catches from inland lakes and the Abay river (Blue Nile).

Currently, fish production in Ethiopia lies in tilapia, catfish, barbus and Nile perch. Apart from some dried catfish trade happening in the north of the country and some fresh fish consumed by fishing areas communities near the lakes, the rest of the fish is traded frozen.

Landings reported from these areas are diminishing year after year due to overfishing activities. Seafood imports consist of small volumes of Nile perch from the Victoria lake in Kenya.

The rise of a middle class, with higher incomes and their desire to include healthier proteins in their diet, and the limited fish production prompts a favourable situation for seafood exporters wanting to sell affordable fish to the Ethiopian market.

Fish Production and Marketing Industry (FPMI) is one of the largest (and possibly the only) seafood distributors and importers in Addis Ababa. They have 3 refrigerated trucks, 3x500 metric tonne cold store facilities and four blast freezers.

They account for 14 seafood retail shops, where they mainly sell frozen tilapia fillets. Nile Perch fillet is sold at approximately 200 ETB/kg (€7.61/kg), whereas tilapia is priced between 75/100 ETB (€3 to 4/kg).

The main challenge faced by FPMI to import is logistics. The nearest port to access Ethiopia is Djibouti and the transport to Addis could take more than two days. Ethiopian airlines are offering very good rates from Liege and Lagos into Addis Ababa as they try to improve efficiency on their flights from Belgium and Nigeria.

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