Local producers must improve the quality and supply of their products in order to match the surging demand for local products, supermarket owners and managers have urged.
According to them, supermarket shelves are filled with imported goods because small and medium local producers do not put emphasis on quality.
“Many Rwandan suppliers are unaware that consumers are more interested in local products than in imported ones. We urge them to maintain a good level of supply of quality goods to meet the high demand,” Peter Macharia, the Head of Procurement at Nakumatt Supermarket said.
“Our customers inquire about particular products, but because there is inconsistent supply, some of them lose interest and divert to alternative products. Suppliers must look into this and fight against delays in supply.”
In a bid to improve producer-supplier relations, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has begun a market linkage program where issues between the two parties can be discussed in detail.
In a meeting yesterday, Evase Nsegimana, the owner of Frulep Supermarket, located in Gikondo, challenged local producers to carry out extensive market research to understand the needs of customers.
“Most of our local suppliers deal in food products, but many do not indicate the types of nutrients in a given product; these small details are what matter to a consumer. A producer who engages in research will always have a competitive edge”, Nsegimana said.
In response, suppliers pledged to implement what is required to compete favorably with imported goods.
“We sometimes lack marketing skills to attract the public, but through exchange of ideas with supermarket managers, we will know what to do. Although it can not be done overnight, we shall endeavor to improve quality and increase supply to meet the demand,” Didace Nshimyiryayo, a marketing agent of SRB Investment Ltd, a local industry that makes paper bags, said.
Martin Gasasira, a Senior Trade Development Officer at RDB, said: “Although exports have increased, we still face an influx of imports because suppliers in supermarkets want to ensure a constant supply of goods to meet the high demand”.
“The market linkage program will bring both suppliers and producers to discuss challenges and see how their relationship can be sustained. When producers realize that there is steady demand, they will be forced to produce more and help to reduce importation,” he added.
RDB also identified seven small and medium producers with the capacity to export and helped them to develop quality labels and logos for their products.
They include Coproviba (banana wine), Shekina Ltd (processed flour), Urwibutso (juice), MIG (honey), Rwanda Agribusiness Industries Ltd (processed food), Contraf (juice) and ABDC Ltd (honey).