Previously, producers from Northern African countries such as Morocco, Southern Europe, and Turkey dominated the European markets for chili peppers. The consumption of chili peppers has increased in Europe as consumers become more familiar with ethnic cuisines. The increasing demand for peppers has created strong regional competition and a lucrative market for the producers.
Ethnic markets for chili peppers
The consumption of chili peppers has increased rapidly over the past few years in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, and France. Currently, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom are the leading importers of peppers with the United Kingdom fetching peppers from Pakistan, Kenya, and India. France imports more than 12,000 tons from Morocco. Poland and Romania are also showing a growing interest in ethnic cuisines. Currently, Poland is importing chili peppers from the Netherlands and Spain while Romania is relying on supplies from Turkey. The fact that the Netherlands re-exports imported chill creates export opportunities for Kenyan produces to tap the European markets.
What requirements should producers and exporters comply with to gain access to the European markets?
Produces and exporters must adhere to the strict requirements to penetrate the European market. For instance, they must:
Comply with phytosanitary requirements
Fruits and vegetables exported to Europe must adhere to the set phytosanitary standards to prevent the entry and spread of harmful organisms that are a threat to plant health.
Minimize pesticide residue
Producers should embrace integrated pest management. The European Union is strict on pesticide residues and crops that exceed the maximum residue levels (MRLs) are withdrawn from the European market
Maintain product quality and size
According to the European regulations, chili peppers being exported to the European market should be of high quality and should have a uniform size (if sized).
Other ways to penetrate the European markets
Collaborate with the producers
On most occasions, it can be difficult to fully comply with the set European requirements when dealing with many small-scale farmers. The pepper quality and pesticides used vary from farmer to farmer since different management practices are employed. It’s therefore important for buyers to collaborate with the produces to monitor the production methods and post-harvest handling to ensure that they comply with the set regulations.
Understand the targeted markets
Specialized chili pepper varieties are found in street markets, restaurants, and specialized ethnic stores while main varieties are mainly sold in supermarkets. In Europe, the composition of market channels varies depending on the region. In countries like Austria and Switzerland, for instance, peppers are mainly sold in local shops. In Spain and France, they are sold in both specialized shops and large hypermarkets. In the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany, chili peppers are mainly sold in supermarket segments, ethnic stores, and restaurants.
Collaborate and target specialized importers
To succeed in the European markets, it’s important to deal with importers specializing in fruits and vegetables. This is because they understand the ethnic consumers and the demand in supermarkets, local shops, and street markets.