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Wines & spirits: how to export the traditional African spirit

How two deeply African spirits are tackling international markets? The story of Ogogoro and Amarula.

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Ogogoro is an ancestral drink in Nigeria, made from palm trees and traditionally drunk in festive family occasions. In 2017, Lola Pedro and Chibu Akukwe founded Pedro’s, with the aim to refine the local drink and pass it through a distilling machine to filter it and make it smoother. They rapidly succeeded in producing a refined and premium Nigerian gin, 100% plant-based and sustainable, hands-in-hands produced with small communities. Today, Pedro’s gin competes with renowned international gins across the world and this year, the company aims to expand to the North American market.

This Nigerian success story makes me think of the famous South African liqueur brand Amarula, which just launched in July a vegan alternative to its legendary cream liqueur. The brand, part of the Distell Group, launched Amarula African Gin, distilled from wild and hand-harvested marula fruits, very popular in South Africa. Like Pedro’s gin, Amarula gin is beautifully crafted, the storytelling, carefully chosen and the ingredients, meticulously hand-picketed from wild forests in South Africa.

By going premium, these two deeply rooted African spirits are trying to expand outside the continent and conquer the world. They come at the right time, as the worldwide consumption of gin is expected to grow steadily across the globe. “By 2023, the category is expected to see a volume CAGR of 4.2% globally, with most growth coming from non-traditional and emerging markets, such as Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Russia”. Source: CNN Africa.

Why is it inspiring?

To internationalize, these two brands tap into their heritage and their history. They successfully craft an exportable African narrative. In the case of Pedro’s gin, their mantra is quite radical: “Audaciously unconventional, Unapologetically African”.

Both brands surf on the high gin consumption in Africa, especially in countries like Nigeria and South Africa. Besides, the global gin consumption is expected to grow, opening new perspectives to African gin brands.

Both brands offer lighter and vegan alternatives to their original drink, embracing the global vegan and organic trend in the food and drink sector.

Take-outs for brands

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Stay true to your heritage and history but craft a contemporary story out of it. The story should embrace current and emerging trends to resonate with consumers.

In the food and drink sector, go premium to tackle new markets if you have a good quality product that holds a rich storytelling.