Côte d’Ivoire: Prospects for U.S. Exporters

In 2018, Côte d’Ivoire boasted a strong 7.8 percent real GDP growth rate, following several years of consistent expansion. The country also experienced increased productivity, household consumption, and real income. In part, this progress stems from a young, burgeoning population, of which 59.5 percent are under the age of 25. Still, in its early development stages, Côte d’Ivoire depends heavily on its agricultural sector for food production and economic growth. This sector provides 20.1 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 64.3 percent of the population. However, this segment is deeply reliant on certain exports, especially cocoa beans. As the world’s largest supplier of cocoa beans, Côte d’Ivoire is extremely vulnerable to international price volatility, along with having the fluctuating CFA Franc as its currency.

Côte d’Ivoire imported $1.9 billion of agricultural goods last year, with the EU, China, India, and Thailand as its largest suppliers. The United States is established in multiple commodity markets in Côte d’Ivoire. In 2018, the United States exported, $10.1 million in rice to the country, along with $8.69 million in condiments and sauces, and $1.44 million in processed vegetables. Côte d’Ivoire currently restricts the trade of GE products and a working group to examine the bio-safety of these products is looking to establish regulations and improve inspection standards.

Key Agricultural Trade Prospects

Dairy Products:

Côte d’Ivoire dairy product imports rose significantly over the past decade. The country bought $361,500 in U.S. dairy products in 2018, compared to only $109,000 in 2014.   The United States mainly competes with New Zealand and the EU, namely France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In terms of specific dairy products, U.S. exporters should pay special attention to butter, formula milk, milk powders, buttermilk, and cheese. From 2014 to 2018, total butter imports doubled from $2.8 million to $4.7 million.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:

The United States has no significant history of fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Côte d’Ivoire. However, demand has risen tremendously over the past few years and fresh fruit imports doubled over the last decade. The country’s appetite has especially increased for apples, grapes, and citrus. Likewise, between 2014 and 2018 the fresh vegetable market expanded from $28 million to nearly $50 million. Côte d’Ivoire’s demand rose for fresh vegetables like carrots, turnips, garlic, onions, and shallots.

Poultry and Eggs:

Rising disposable incomes in Côte d’Ivoire are allowing consumers to demand more protein-rich foods, as seen in Ghana. However, unlike Ghana, consumers in Côte d’Ivoire have preferences for all meat products, including poultry. Poultry is the fastest growing opportunity for U.S. exporters. Within the last decade, the market for poultry products has tripled. Consumers desire frozen poultry cuts, which grew exponentially from thousand-dollar to million-dollar values during this period. Following the same trend, egg and egg product imports from the world reached $9.74 million in 2018, up from $2.5 million in 2014.

Alcoholic Beverages:

Côte d’Ivoire’s market for alcoholic beverages is steadily expanding. Wine imports totaled nearly $51 million in 2018, and another $13 million in malt beer imports, with the EU as the leading supplier. Distilled spirit imports also increased between 2014 to 2018, from approximately $7 million to $21.8 million. Consumers seem largely inclined to liqueurs and whiskeys. The United States did not contribute to the wine and beer market over the last two years and only exported $8,500 of distilled spirits in 2018. Still, demand for Western spirits and other alcoholic drinks appears favorable for new exporters thanks to increases in disposable household income. In addition, the presence of U.S. products in Côte d’Ivoire’s alcoholic beverage sector is likely underestimated due to transshipments from European countries.

Tree Nuts:

Though not advancing at the same million-dollar rate as the aforementioned commodities, tree nuts are worth noting. Côte d’Ivoire imported $450,000 in 2018, up from approximately $243,000 in 2014. Of that 2018 value, U.S. producers supplied $241,000. This is especially important since the United States did not export tree nut products to Côte d’Ivoire over the preceding decade. Producers should especially explore opportunities to export almonds.

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Research Sources:
United States Department of Agriculture


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