Profit-making idea: What do dried egg yolk, sorbitol and sodium sulphate have in common?

Vikram Agarwal

Profit-making idea is a series of short posts, each with a piece of information that we think you might find useful: for investment, for growing your company or to start a new business.

Dried egg yolk. Sorbitol. Sodium sulphate.

These are some consumer goods ingredients that could be manufactured in Africa but are currently imported, as identified at the recent Africa CEO Forum, held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Vikram Agarwal, Unilever’s executive vice president for supply chain in Africa, highlighted dried egg yolk (used to manufacture mayonnaise) and sorbitol (an ingredient in toothpaste) as products which could theoretically be made in Africa.

Another item with the potential for import substitution is sodium sulphate, which is used to produce detergents. “The African consumption of sodium sulphate… is of the nature of hundreds of millions of tonnes per year. It is a very, very large-scale product. Yet, we don’t really have African production for this item,” commented Sachen Chandaria, CEO of Kenya-based Orbit Chemical Industries.

But while pan-African demand for these products might be significant, individual countries are often too small to justify a factory. For this reason it is important to break down barriers to regional trade, which will enlarge the total addressable market.