Local producers are missing out on potential opportunities in the regional and international markets because of poor packaging of their products that fail to meet international standards, according to the Private Sector Federation (PSF).
The PSF says that while most of Rwandan products may be better than others in the region, on the basis of quality, poor packaging weighs down on their competitiveness, which hurts the country’s export revenues.
“Markets expect certain standards in packaging. As a result of that, you would invest in packaging as much as quality of the product itself,” Hannington Namara, the Chief Executive Officer of (PSF) said last week during the launch of Inyange Industries Ltd’s Tetrafino 250 millilitre packs at the Gikondo expo grounds in Kigali.
Exporters say that the bigger challenge is perishable products which need a high level of investment to meet the standards required in most markets.
“With regard to perishables, I think there is need to hear them out and treat them separately,” Namara says, adding that there is need to craft means on how small enterprises can improve on their packaging.
The packaging comes amidst the country’s deteriorating trade balance.
The trade imbalance is projected to grow to 17.6 per cent this year with import receipts growing by 30 per cent to US$541.5 million against exports of US$104.8 million. The trend calls for more exports especially traditional exports.
This will require most producers, especially small and medium enterprises to improve on their packaging and meet standards so as to access regional and global markets.
Namara believes that concentrating on quality would improve competitiveness, citing Inyange dairy products, which managed to compete on the basis of quality.
Senganda Kayitana, the Managing Director of Inyange Industries says; “We have started exporting to East Africa and DR Congo and because of the quality our products are liked in those markets, we want to see how to prolong their shelf life.
“It is in the same spirit of making milk products available and ready in different sizes depending on affordability of everyone.”