Industrial food processing is a priority in Haiti. Considerable quantities of agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, spices) are lost each year due to insufficient infrastructures, because they are not of export quality or simply because they are not processed.
The value-added component of agricultural production in Haiti is generally very low.
Food processing will promote national self-sustenance, a priority for both the Haitian government and international aid organizations.
Among existing food processing technologies, sun-drying is particularly interesting because of the following advantages:
*limitless solar energy;
*extremely simple technologies;
*folk-tradition of production and consumption of sun-dried goods in Haiti;
*local and international demand on the rise;
*easy handling and distribution of dried products;
*it is the least expensive food processing method;
*conserves the nutritional content and flavor of food
Most fruits, vegetable and herbs can be dried: mangoes, coconut, bananas, coffee, tomatoes, arbre veritable, peppers, callaloo, spinach, spices, beans, rice, pearl millet, giromon, djon, herbal tea leaves, pineapples, aprictot, guavas. Sun-drying can also be applied to seafood such as fish, shrimp and lambi.
The traditional drying technology used in Haiti is not very efficient and is neither advantageous nor sufficient for reliable and profitable industrial use. For the purposes of this project, the technology of choice is indirect sun-drying by convection. A column of air, heated in a solar collector is pushed by an airpump or thermosyphon, into a curing chamber where it absorbs the moisture in food. A powerful radial ventilation system activates dehydration. The food products can be reduced to the required humidity level (15% to 25%) in less than fifteen hours.
Dried mangoes alone can drive a sun-drying initiative. However, the possibility of drying at least two other crops, according to seasonal demand, should also be studied. At most, mangoes are available for over 6 months a year in Haiti. All that is needed is to work ahead of exporters and recuperate mangoes that do not qualify for export. Twenty-five to thirty-five percent of Francis mangoes, unique in the world, are rejected in the export selection process. Slices of dried Francis mangoes contain little fiber, have a delicate taste and are rich in vitamin A. Let’s not forget that there are several varieties of mangoes in Haiti that are available in large quantities, but are not-exported and therefore, marketed in a limited way: Corne, white, Rosalie, Rosemarie, fil, etc.
During the mango low season, which is approximately 3 months a year, at least two substitute products can be selected for drying, according to market demands and what fruits are in season.
Also, during the mango low season, there is a severe vitamin A deficiency, also known as “avitaminosis”, among the Haitian population. This ailment affects not only Haitians, but millions of children around the world, and can have severe consequences, including blindness. International relief organizations fight this deficiency through the large-scale distribution of medicinal vitamin A and many governments now recognize vitamin A deficiency as a major public health problem.
Taste tests (in Haiti, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Bangladesh, India, Jamaica, Trinidad, etc.) have shown that dried fruit and fruit pastes, especially mangoes, are highly appreciated by local populations.
The market for dried mangoes
Mangoes are cultivated in 83 countries, representing world-wide production of 17-million metric tonnes in 1992. India is by far the most important producer with nearly 60% of the world’s production, followed by Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Brazil.
Nevertheless, international trade in fresh mangoes in insignificant in relation to world-wide production: 99% of mangoes are either consumed locally or processed.
The potential for export to foreign markets, especially to markets in temperate climate zones, is constantly growing. International demand for fresh mangoes, dried mangoes, mango paste and concentrate is growing from year to year.
The European Union has seen the greatest increase in the volume of imported fresh mangoes: more than 200% since 1985.
The American market has seen fresh mango imports rise from $65 million in 1990 to $107 million in 1994. The consumption of mangoes is rising steadily in the United States, at a rate of 10% to 15% annually. However, it is a fruit that is mostly consumed by ethnic groups. Only one third of American households have ever purchased mangoes. In 1970, Americans consumed an average of 0.05 pounds of mangoes per person per year. In 1900 that figure had risen to 0.23 pounds per year. Presently, the average American consumes half a pound of mangoes a year.
However, fruit companies such as Dole, Del Monte and Chiquita are trying to break down ethnic barriers and make mangoes as common as bananas and oranges. Major marketing and advertising campaigns have been planned for the coming years to increase the popularity of mangoes. The idea behind these campaigns is to educate consumers by positioning the mango as a versatile, nutritious and delicious fruit.
We are witnessing a change in tastes. The need for new and exotic tastes has increased substantially, especially when the exotic can be combined with excellent nutritional value. More and more European and North-American companies are becoming aware of the advantages of using tropical fruits in their products and of promoting these fruits on their packaging.
In 1991 and 1992 the number of new food and beverage products in the United-States that indicated the presence of mangoes, passion fruit, guavas and bananas on their packaging increased by 20%
Many tropical fruit are extremely rich in vitamins A, C and Beta-carotene, nutritional products that are much in demand. Furthermore, the chemical composition of such fruits makes them compatible with a wide variety of beverages, dairy products, desserts, sauces, soups and toppings, as well as with baked goods and baby food. Finally, due to their low cost, tropical fruits are especially attractive to food manufacturers.
Sales of dehydrated vegetables reached $1.1 billion in 1992, representing an increase of more than 20% since 1988. The soup industry is the biggest buyer for dried vegetable products, followed by other industrial food processing concerns and institutional food services. Japan is the biggest importer of dried foods, representing 19% of the world market for dried vegetables. Asia is the dominant market for dried foods, including fruit, vegetables and seafood.
Imports of dried bananas to the United States fell by 12.3% (total 5.4 million pounds) in 1995, mostly due to a slowdown in shipping from the two most important producers: the Philippines and Ecuador. The price of dried banana chips varies between $0.72 and $0.79 a pound.
Imports of dried apricots to the United States in 1995 rose by 21.3% (Total 32.2 million pounds). This increase was the result of an excellent harvest in Turkey, the country that supplies 95% of American imports. The price of dried apricots varies between $1.15 and $1.25 a pound.
Imports of dried papaya to the United States in 1995 fell by 2.7% (total: 1.8 million pounds) in 1995. Thailand supplied 94% of imports to the United States. The price of dried papaya varies between $1.05 and $1.15 a pound.
Dried pineapples are not very popular in the United States. The price varies between $1.15 and $1.30 a pound.
Imports of dried mangoes and guavas to the United States rose from $0.9 million (0.2 million kilos) in 1992 to $2.23 million (0.6 million kilos). Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico are the main suppliers.
Numerous studies have shown that dried mangoes are one of the best alternatives to medication to counter and prevent vitamin A deficiency during the low season. International relief agencies represent a potentially valuable new market.
Dried mangoes also represent high sales potential on the local Haitian market, in terms of bulk and grocery sales, as well as sales to the service industry.
2.5.MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRIAL SECTORS