Taking one glance at Tunisia’s agribusiness reveals an absolute wealth of opportunities for would-be investors.
This is a country which exports to over 100 different destinations, including the European Union, USA, Middle East and Japan. In other words, all of the big international players.
This is a country which represents over 70,000 people, with companies hiring 10 or more employees.
This is an industry which represented 4281.8 MTND in imports in the agriculture and food industry.
This is an industry which has over 1,000 companies forming almost one-fifth of the industrial fabric.
In simple terms, the opportunities for this industry are immense in Tunisia.
Taking the above into account, we will now take a look at some of the strengths and direct opportunities that the agribusiness in Tunisia provides to those investors who are looking to gain a slice of the action.
What are the main strengths of agribusiness in Tunisia?
Following on from the above, it’s worth taking a look at the strengths of this industry in further detail.
We could talk about the 3,000,000 tons of vegetables, or the 125,000 tons of fishery products that the country produces, but instead of focusing on hard numbers we are going to take a look at some of the strengths that really separate the nation from others who are involved in agribusiness.
The organic production factor
As we all know, organic produce isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only getting stronger – and this is something that Tunisia is clearly excelling in.
In terms of the numbers, the country is producing around 265,000 tons of organic production every year – with around 80% of this designated for exports. To put this into perspective, this means that the country is the second largest exporter of organic produce in the whole of Africa. From a global perspective, the country are ranked 24th – which is pretty incredible when one considers their size.
If we look at the types of produce which is prominent in the country, olives and olive oil are key drivers. In terms of the latter, around 25,000 tons of organic olive oil are exported, with this representing approximately 12% of the whole of the natural production.
Skilled human resources
It would be fair to say that when it comes to agriculture, the percentage of skilled workers for the field is quite low for a lot of countries. This is where Tunisia differs significantly and there are thought to be around 1,200 graduates who specialize in the likes of veterinary sciences, agriculture and forestry. Once again, it means the country is streets ahead of other North African countries.
From a financial perspective, the cost of such resources is not going to be extraordinary high for investors. While the agri-food field might accommodate a quarter of the country’s total engineers, their salaries are still much lower in comparison to nearby countries and this represents an excellent opportunity.
A safe environment
In some under-developed countries, there’s no doubt that safety might be a concern for investors – particularly in an industry as sensitive to this as food.
However, since 2001, Tunisia has complied with ISO 22000, which refers to international food safety. As such, this represents a major advantage over nearby countries.
Research in the industry
Over the last few years Tunisia has invested significant resources into food technology.
This has come via numerous ways. For example, there is a Technology Park dedicated to the entire food industry located in Bizerte, with this being based over a huge 45 hectares and being home to over 100 companies.
As well as this, countless research facilities have been developed in a bid to close the gap between modern science and food. The fact there are over 64 laboratories just highlights this strength.
Investment opportunities in the agribusiness field
By this point, it will not come as a surprise to read that the scope for investment opportunities is huge.
We have already spoken about certain foods and the immense volume that is produced in the country. For example, in the case of oil, huge opportunities still exist for the continued production of organic oil, as well as the production of vegetal olive oils.
Another huge element of the agribusiness industry are dates. Again, organic production is significant here, but something else that is key is the development of new products surrounding this food. These could revolve around confectionery or chocolate, but considering the large volumes that Tunisia produces many believe this is a prime opportunity for investors.
Seafood is another industry which could benefit investors. Unsurprisingly, this is a country which can benefit terrifically from local produce, yet there is a shortage of prepared fish-based meals. The canned tuna market here is also huge, yet there is a demand for the cans to be modernized to make production more efficient.
Other areas that could be open to investors are grape wine, cut flowers, aromatic oils, confectionary and cheese made from fresh milk.
Something that applies to the majority of industries that we have just looked at is the packaging. Experts still believe that most industries require assistance with the conditioning and packaging – and this doesn’t have to revolve around new products. A lot of existing products are in desperate need for this, and this marks a terrific opportunity for an investor.
A closing note on investing in Tunisian agribusiness
In summary, it’s clear to see that the agribusiness in Tunisia presents some significant opportunities for investors. The fact that Tunisia can produce so much of its own food is of huge significance, and when this is coupled with terrific export possibilities and low-cost resources, the outlook for an investor is very promising indeed.
One only has to look at the likes of the Danone Group, Bernabe Biosca and even Nestle Tunisia to see how attractive this country is for investors. With help also available from organizations like the APIA, Technical Centre of Organic Agriculture, ONH and the OTD to name a few, it appears as though all of the tools are there for investors to really take advantage of this market in Tunisia.