Benin does not produce sufficient foodstuffs for its population domestically and relies on imported foods and agricultural products to make up the difference. Most of Benin’s produce is in subsistence farming with only a small percentage of its food production reaching the domestic market. Benin is a trans-shipment hub for agricultural cargo destined for Benin’s neighbors, especially Nigeria, thanks to relatively rapid processing of goods at the Port of Cotonou and relatively good road conditions and security. An estimated 90% of rice, frozen poultry, sugars and sweeteners, milled grains, dairy products, processed vegetables, and vegetable oil imported through the Port of Cotonou is re-exported to western Nigeria or to Niger. The U.S. Bureau of the Census data on direct imports of U.S. agricultural and related products into Benin indicates a drop from $3.9 million in 2019 to $3.04 million in 2020.
Additional information on agricultural sectors may be drawn from U.S. Foreign Agriculture Service’s (FAS) online Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN). FAS publishes market briefs, an annual “Exporter Guide,” and a “Food and an Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS)” report for select markets. Consult with the nearest international FAS office regarding which reports and other data it publishes for your country or region.
Potential opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports to Benin include rice, poultry, meat, wheat, corn, soybeans, canned fruits and vegetables, tomato sauce/ketchup, vegetable oil, fruit juices, pasta, wine and other spirits, powdered milk, energy drinks, mayonnaise, and snack foods. These compete with similar products from Europe and Asia.
Importers take advantage of Nigeria’s high tariffs and porous borders to informally re-export rice, poultry products, and other food and agricultural products to Nigeria. Trade sources estimate that more than 90% of Benin’s imports of these types of products are meant for onward sales into Nigeria through informal cross-border trading activities. However, economic sluggishness and a depreciated currency in Nigeria severely impacted the pace of re-export from Benin.
Located 30 miles north of Benin’s commercial capital Cotonou, the Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone (GDIZ) is currently under development to increase locally processed agricultural goods like cashews, cotton, and pineapple. It falls under the direction of Benin’s Industry Promotion and Investment Company (SIPI), a public private partnership. The GDIZ is structured such that the GOB owns a 35% stake in it with the Mauritanian-Singaporean firm Arise Integrated International Platfoms (Arise-IIP) owning 65%. Glo-Djigbé seeks to transform numerous locally produced agricultural products and high-tech goods for export. As of December 2022, several companies have begun operations and approximately 25 have signed contracts to begin operations there, including Oryx and JNP (both petroleum services); NKS (cashew processing), Groupe Aigle (cotton processing), and SIDDIH (pharmaceuticals).
USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service
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