3 Marketing Factors for Animal Source Food System Success
The Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security (EEFS) project recently launched an analytical guidance document identifying the enabling environment factors that drive animal source food (ASF) market system success in terms of economic growth, resilience, inclusiveness, and improved nutrition. The guidance document organizes findings in three interconnected categories: supply-side factors, marketing factors, and financial services factors.
The first installment of this blog series provides a general overview of the guidance document and how the findings can benefit USAID decision-making. The second installment summarizes four supply-side factors in the enabling environment for ASF market systems, and this third installment examines three marketing factors for ASF system success. In the coming weeks, EEFS will share a final installment that summarizes financial services factors for ASF system success.
Marketing factors in the enabling environment influence consumer demand and the ability of market actors to reach end-market destinations with the specifications demanded. The three marketing factors identified here include the nature of consumer demand, infrastructure and policies that facilitate trade, and the public and private systems that enable food safety.
An enabling environment should be understood not only as the formal rules (laws, regulations, and policies) that create incentives for market actors, but also as encompassing the broader operating context which includes the underlying, often informal norms and values across actors.
The tastes and preferences of end consumers should be included in these considerations — particularly for ASF products — given the strong influence of traditional behaviors related to certain foods (e.g., raw meat, unpasteurized milk, etc.) as well as how purchasing power will influence preferences (e.g., offal versus fine cuts, etc.).
The success of investments targeting economic growth and local nutritional impact will be influenced by the degree to which end-market demand considerations are factored into project design and tactical decisions. Specifically, USAID Missions and implementing partners should closely examine the nature of local consumption patterns and preferences, as well as the prevailing formal and informal market channels for domestic buyers. Further, it is important to recognize that traditional tastes and preferences are deep-seated and tend to shift only over longer time horizons.
The EEFS team identified several considerations that either create barriers to or enable expanded trade of ASF products, including infrastructure, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements, and trade agreements. Infrastructure specific to ASFs include those that enable the movement of animals, such as holding pens and health points along animal transport corridors. In certain cases, private market actors play an important role; while in others, public sector infrastructure investments can support broader market opportunities.
Export-oriented ASF market systems must comply with international SPS requirements established by the Codex Alimentarius. These standards require procedures along the chain that can ensure livestock are free of transboundary diseases, some of which are zoonotic, such as foot-and-mouth disease, Rift Valley fever, and avian influenza. Good animal husbandry practices, investments in vaccination programs, and trade facilitation mechanisms, such as the establishment of disease-free zones along export corridors, have been shown to support market actors to meet international SPS requirements.
Where market actors are not yet able to meet the international SPS requirements necessary to engage in multilateral mechanisms such as the World Trade Organization, then bilateral agreements can be an alternative. For instance, supplier countries in the Horn of Africa have entered into bilateral trade agreements with buyer countries in the Middle East, resulting in expanded trade in live animals and other ASFs without meeting international standards fully.
Food Safety Controls
Foodborne risks are particularly relevant to ASF products, given the prevalence of pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli, aflatoxins in livestock feed, and zoonotic diseases (those that spillover from animals to humans). There are both public and private sector-led mechanisms that can support food safety control for ASFs, and increasing consumer demand for safe foods is one of the strongest incentives for market actors to improve food safety. Increased demand for food safety is a function of both improved awareness and higher disposable income, both of which are continuing challenges in least developing countries.
Public sector food safety systems are often poorly enforced in developing countries due to issues including underfunding, weak institutional capacity, and limited political will. But foodborne illnesses create not only health risks; they also create economic risks at both a macro- and micro-level. In other words, market actors themselves have a strong incentive to avoid contamination that can negatively affect demand for their products. One promising mechanism for ASFs may therefore be co-regulation, which requires close coordination between public and private actors. A complementary mechanism for food safety control is evidence-based risk analysis to identify risk points along the chain; however, public sector capacity and cross-ministerial coordination are often constraining factors that limit the implementation of this approach.
Private sector food safety standards are voluntary, but to access these market channels, they are effectively compulsory for suppliers. Private standards are often more onerous on suppliers, as they are a way for buyers to control risks along their supply chain, and it is typically more costly and challenging for smaller actors to comply with the standards. Nonetheless, horizontal market cooperation — particularly industry associations and/or networks — can be particularly influential in establishing and promoting the standards for broad-based uptake among producers and processors.
There are various conditions in the enabling environment specific to ASF market system success or failure. This article focuses specifically on three categories of factors that influence the ability of market actors to reach end-market destinations at the specifications required by buyers along different channels. Before designing and deploying new project investments, it is important for USAID Missions and implementing partners to consider factors such as the nature of end-market demand for ASF products, infrastructure that aids animal movement, market actor ability to meet SPS requirements, and the various private mechanisms available to provide improved food safety control.