Ishida Europe MD: Snacks will be growth tool for Africa

Interest in snacks comes first with all new markets, says Ishida Europe MD

Ishida Europe plans to expand into Africa next year and snacks will spearhead the move, its managing director says.

The packaging and processing specialist will delve into a handful of African markets next year in a bid to grow business further and pull in £135m ($221.4m) next fiscal year, up £13m from this year.

“We’ve now started to look into Africa – the main part of Africa – in a more determined way,” said Graham Clements, managing director of Ishida Europe.

Clements told that, as with all new markets, the snacks side of Ishida will likely spearhead this entry.

“When a new market starts up, the area it tends to come from first is snacks… So with Africa, we would expect it to follow the same pattern. Snacks will be a very important sector in that growing area,” he said.

However, Ishida Europe does plan to develop new business in Africa on a broader level – beyond snacks covering sectors like meat and poultry and fresh food.

African strategy to enter primary research phase

Ishida has been compiling market research on African markets for the past few months – looking at key players and the state of development in each.

“What we’ve fundamentally been doing is looking at market research reports and secondary data,” said Steve Jones, general manager for product management and product marketing at Ishida Europe.

“We’ve now identified the key players and the current state of development and the next stage now is to actually do some primary research,” he said.

However, Clements said Ishida is focused on working slowly to ensure a secure market entry. “There are supermarkets, they are selling products there and so we want to be there.”

“One of the things about working with a Japanese company that has rubbed off is that although speed is on our agenda, this is speed of development and speed of thinking; not rushing to do something like entering a new market. We tend to take our time and think about it and put the resources in first.”

Shrinking the snack business

Snacks represents around a third of Ishida Europe’s total business – between 25-30% - and despite the move into Africa, Clements said the aim is to actually shrink this to 15-20% over the next few years.

Asked why, he said: “Not smaller in absolute terms just smaller as the total of business. Because it will mean we are more diverse, that we’ve introduced and gone into newer markets – which is what we are always trying to do.”

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