US$150 million worth of fruit juice is imported into Ghana each year, while fruit juice processing factories in the country are said to be collapsing.
Only US$ 40 million worth of juice representing 28 percent of total domestic demand is produced in the country.
99 percent of these major factories including Coastal Groove in the Central Region, Coco Bean also in the Central Region, Sunripe in the Eastern Region, Premium Kingdom in the Volta Region, Pinora, Blue Skies and Fruity Land are all said to be operating under 10 percent capacity.
The companies are facing serious challenges including the high cost of power, depletion of working capital because of the constant depreciation of the cedi, and insufficient raw material because most of the pineapple farms have wasted away.
A case in point is Sunripe Fruit Juice Company with a US$7 million investment and 80 workers, which was producing 5000 cases of juice per day but now only works for a week and shuts down for three weeks and shuts down for three weeks due to these challenges.
The owner, Ruth Acheampong, who lamented to Goldstreet Business believes if these problems are not addressed, it will be a waste of setting up new factories under the ‘One District One Facotory’ project.
She lamented “we have all these factories, so we have the equipment, but they are operating under 10 percent capacity.”
“These issues have to be resolved, otherwise there is risk that the One District, One factory will go the same way. We import US$15 million worth of fruit juice into the country every year. At the end of the day there are 10 fruit juice factories collapsing, what is the underlying problem. We keep saying that we import tomato paste; six tomato paste factories either have no equipment, or have not been set up or have totally collapsed. And we are still importing tomato paste. We should find out what is wrong with the industries,” she added.
In comparison, Nigeria has actually banned 43 items including fruit juice from everywhere in the world including ECOWAS. Before the ban they were producing only US$2 million liters worth of juice but the country is now producing US$550 million worth of the product.
She added that farmers who claim they have not been able to sell their produce for about four years now come pleading with them to offtake their farm produce at a pittance ; some with farm sizes of about 300 acres.
“If we look critically at the existing factories, within six months, all will be up and running because they have gone through the learning gap, they know where the problems are and how to fix them. The major issue is the cost of power, cost of power is ridiculous and if it is not fixed before we bring in more factories, the same thing is going to happen.”
Ruth Acheampong believes if government emulates some of the drastic measures adopted by countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast, the industry can be boosted.