2010 Retail Food Sector

An Expert's View about Food Processing in Tunisia

Last updated: 5 May 2011

Higher disposable income and increased exposure to western lifestyles have contributed to the expansion of modern food distribution outlets in Tunisia in the last few years. Modern food retailers are steadily growing, though small shops still dominate about 80 percent the food retail market.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution 12/16/2010 Date: GAIN Report Number: TS1012 Tunisia Retail Foods 2010 Retail Food Sector Approved By: Hassan F. Ahmed, U.S. Embassy, Rabat Prepared By: Youssef Chahed, U.S. Embassy Tunis Report Highlights: Higher disposable income and increased exposure to western lifestyles have contributed to the expansion of modern food distribution outlets in Tunisia in the last few years. Modern food retailers are steadily growing, though small shops still dominate about 80 percent the food retail market. In August 2009, the Tunisian government issued a new law to help modernize the retail industry and regulate the establishment of franchises and central purchasing entities in Tunisia. Executive Summary: In recent years, the Tunisian food retail sector witnessed a rapid expansion of modern distribution channels that was fuelled by increased per capita income and a growing urban middle class with more sophisticated consumption patterns. Modern outlets have changed the purchasing habits of many consumers, though the bulk of food retailing is still undertaken by small neighborhood grocery shops. Fresh fruit and vegetables as well as fishery products are also sold in souks, a type of out- door market. Sales of food products at modern retailers and outlets in Tunisia were estimated at over $1 billion in 2010, and grew at an annual rate of 15 percent. Since the opening of the first French hypermarket Carrefour in 2001, two new international brands were introduced into the Tunisian market (Champion and Casino). The main state supermarket chain (Magasin General) was fully privatized in 2007. Currently, there are roughly 230 modern food retail outlets, 2 Hypermarkets, 150 Supermarkets and 100 Superettes (self-service food outlets with a selling area less than 500 sq. m). In the medium run, more foreign retailers are expected to enter the market enticed by a sector poised to expand more aggressively over the next decade displacing traditional grocery shops and capturing 30 percent of the food retail market. Tunisia has been ranked, according to the 9th Global Retail Development Index (Grdi) issued by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, among the most attractive countries in the world for investment in modern retailers. Although the traditional distribution network, based on more than 250,000 neighborhood grocery shops, continue to dominate 80 percent of the Tunisian market, the fast growth of supermarkets and hypermarkets in the last few years has caused concerns for small retail stores. Small corner shops were seriously affected by hypermarkets expansion and regularly complained to the government about their inability to compete. In order to improve the retail business climate and ensure a balance between various stakeholders, the GOT issued the first law that organizes the distribution sector in August 2009 (Law 69#2009). This legislation intended to help modernize the retail industry and meet the requirements of the retail sector development. In addition, the new law regulates two other important segments of the food retail sector: franchising and central purchasing. Section I. Consumer Trends With ten million consumers growing at annual rate of 1.8 percent and enjoying an average purchasing parity per capita of $9,100, the Tunisian market provides good opportunities for imported food products. Tunisia?s per capita purchasing power is currently among the highest in North Africa and is projected to rise in 2011. Two-thirds of the population lives in urban cities and nearly one- fifth is living in the Greater Tunis Metropolitan area. Tunisia has a relatively large middle class representing 80 percent of the entire population and enjoying a relatively good social welfare, with ready access to education and health services. As in most developing countries, food expenditure represents a high percentage of total expenditure. According to the latest survey by the Tunisian National Statistics Institute?s (INS), Tunisians spend on food nearly 6.3 billion TD a year (about $4,9 billion), mainly to purchase staples like bread, pasta, semolina, cooking oil and dairy products. The development of Tunisia?s food consumption structure showed an important change in the type of food products sold in the market in recent years. More manufactured and processed products are finding their way into the market compared to non-manufactured products. Food expenditures shares have been modified due to changes in relative prices, incomes and variations in tastes and preferences. In the same time, items that used to be considered luxury goods, such as salty and sweet snacks, fruit juices or fresh fruits are increasingly popular. Tunisia's growing young population is also adding to this factor. In fact, youth population group represents a large part (55 percent of the total population is under the age of 30) and is more open to western-style food products. In addition, there are about 6 million tourists who visit Tunisia annually and offer opportunity of selling high processed food products. Opportunities Challenges A relatively high household disposable Price-conscious buyers coupled high customs income duties levied on consumer-oriented food products make it difficult for US exporters to compete in this market. Fast growth of modern distribution Lack of direct shipping lines from the US resulting channels that translates in an increasing in long transit times and higher export costs as sophistication of the consumption compared to goods sourced from nearby Europe patterns. Imported products are generally highly Hypermarkets and some supermarkets tend to recognized among consumers and procure food products through their European institutional services for quality and franchisers. safety. US food products? quality is well perceived A favorable U.S. dollar exchange rate Lack of awareness of the U.S. food products brand against the Euro names compared to the European brands Major European tourist destination Fewer business ties compared to those with the requiring consistent high quality food EU supply. New legislations organizing the food retail sector and establishing franchises Section II: Road Map For market Entry II-1: Modern retail outlets: hypermarkets, supermarkets and superettes Hypermarkets (over 5,000 sq meters), supermarkets (between 500 and 5,000 sq meters) and superettes (less than 500 sq meters) are referred to as modern distribution outlets in Tunisia. They get the majority of consumer?s attention, as they represent in many cases international name brands. The country?s retail distribution chains, however, continue to be dominated by more than 250,000 small shops. The modern distribution sector in Tunisia hinges on three main actors: Group UTIC (Carrefour hypermarket and Champion supermarket licensed by the French retailer Carrefour), Group Mabrouk (Geant hypermarket and Monoprix supermarket licensed by the French retailer Casino) and Magasin General group owned by Bayahi-Poulina Consortium who won in 2007 the privatization of the state-owned supermarket Magasin General. The stocking of shelves at the supermarkets and hypermarkets levels is done through two channels: either through importers or directly by the retailer using its own local and international procurement subsidiary, the so-called ?Centrale d?achats?. Small grocery stores source their goods from wholesalers for the large part of their assortment and from certain importers having their own distribution fleet to supply goods at the retail level. New legislations The rapid arrival of hypermarket in Tunisia has caused concerns in the supply chain and the organization of the retail outlets, especially in the absence of a law organizing the sector. For example, it is common to observe small corner shop owners buying their supplies in hypermarket like Carrefour or Geant and reselling them at their shops. In addition, the location of where the hypermarkets can be established was a controversy issue. After several years of hesitation, the GOT developed a trade reform distribution published in August 12, 2009 (Law No. 2009-69) in order to improve the retail business climate, ensure the balance between various stakeholders and address current concerns. The main focus of the new law was the regulation of two important aspects of the food retail sector: franchising and central purchasing. Franchising: Before the approval of the 2009-69 law, permissions to open and operate franchises were accorded on a case-by-case basis. In August 2010, the Tunisian government issued a ministerial decree outlining contract provisions and publishing a sectoral list in which franchises would need no prior authorization to operate in Tunisia. Franchises on this list will be able to operate like any other foreign business in Tunisia, while the franchises that are not on the sectoral list, such as the food franchises, must obtain an approval to operate. The U.S. franchises are currently under- represented in Tunisia. This may provide a good opportunity for U.S companies to enter and benefit from this fast growing market. During the last Tunisia Med Franchise show organized in December 2010, we noticed a strong interest of Tunisian investors for food franchises. U.S retailers and food companies should take advantage of this positive development. Central purchasing According to the new law, any person or legal entity can create a central purchasing company called ?Centrale d?achat? in order to buy products at preferential prices and resell them to other retailers that are members of this central purchasing. Larger retailers are also allowed to own their ?Centrale d?achat?. This could probably encourage better organization of distribution channels and improve relations between importers, distributers and the retailers. Entry strategy The best way to introduce new products to these outlets is to identify a suitable importer, i.e. an importer with proven experience in handling the targeted products and having direct relations with supermarkets. Such importers are able to negotiate shelve space and promotional activities with the supermarket chain. In any case, U.S. exporters are encouraged to check the credentials of the importer. Joint ventures can offer certain advantages to penetrate the market. Tunisian businesses are mostly family-owned and controlled, and they welcome foreign investment in distribution and marketing ventures. However, U.S. companies should be rigorous in selecting their partner. An alternative approach, especially for large exporters, is to contact retailers directly as some of them have subsidiaries dealing with local and international procurement. USDA/FAS office in Tunis can help in the process of matching new-to-market exporters with appropriate potential business partners or to conduct specially tailored inquiries for U.S. companies seeking export opportunities in this emerging market. Market access Tunisia is a party to a variety of free trade agreements (FTA). Chief among them is the Tunisian European Association Agreement. As of January 1, 2008, the EU-Tunisia free trade agreement has been in full swing. The agricultural sector, currently running under a TRQ system, will be the subject of future negotiations aimed at dismantling import tariffs. However the existing TRQ system for EU agriculture products is diverting a significant portion of agricultural trade away from other trading partners including the U.S. In the absence of preferential access, US-origin processed food products face relatively high MFN tariff rates. Following is the current taxation system applying to a selection of grocery items: ITEM HS CODE Customs tariff % VAT % Ketchup 2103 20 2000 60 29 Canned Tomatoes 2002 10 0000 73 6 Whole Peeled Tomatoes 2002 10 0000 73 29 Tomato Sauce 2103 20 4000 60 29 Tomato Paste 2002 90 0060 100 6 Mayonnaise 2103 90 9020 60 29 Peanut Butter 2008 11 1000 150 18 Cereal 1904 10 0040 73 29 Hot Sauce 2103 20 4000 60 29 Canned Vegetables 2005 51 2040 73 29 Honey 0409 00 0055 150 18 Mustard 2103 30 0000 60 29 Vinegar 2209 00 0000 73 18 Canned Beans 2005 59 0000 73 29 Jam 2007 10 0000 73 18 Source: Tunisian Customs service Market structure The modern retail industry is dominated by 3 important groups. These groups are very important in the Tunisian economy and have diversified activity (real estate, car industry, tourism?.). Two others small retailer?s, cady and 2 Pas, also exist but have insignificant market share (less 2%). The following table presents the most important players. : Structure of the Food Retail Sector in Tunisia Retailer Outlet Type OwnershipSales(2009/2010) Purchasing Type UTIC Hypermarket Group UTIC $ 345 million -Imports directly Group Carrefour (1) (80 %) and and buys from local Carrefour Market Carrefour importers and France (20 -Relies on Carrefour city (42) %) Carrefour for its procurement -Géant, Group $ 373 million -Imports directly Hypermarket(1) Mabrouk and buys from local Mabrouk under the importers Group -Monoprix, license of -Imports directly supermarket French and recently signed chain(70) retailer an agreement with CASINO monoprix France. Magasin -Magasin General Group S297 -Imports directly General supermarket Bayahi and million and buys from local Group chain(47) Poluina importers -Promogros (6) -Magro (5) Source: Estimates based on market reports and retailers disclosed information. Retailers Market share UTIC Group 33% Mabrouk Group 35.7 Magasin Generale 28.4% Others 2% Distribution Channel Flow Diagram The following distribution channel flow diagram shows modern distribution channels particularly how imported food items are passed from exporters to the modern retail outlets. Company profiles The distribution sector in Tunisia hinges on three main actors: The Mabrouk Group (Geant/Monoprix) The Mabrouk group is the partner firm of the French retailer Casino (Geant for hypermarkets and Monoprix for supermarkets). In the late 1990?s, the group formed a partnership with Monoprix that allowed Mabrouk to use the French brand name Monoprix at about 60 of its own supermarkets. In 2009, Mabrouk extended its partnership with Monoprix in order to access Monoprix?s central buying service and set up a goal of having 80 supermarkets located in all big cities across the country. In 2010, Monoprix bought the ?Sahara Confort? retailer which will increase the number of its supermarkets to 70 stores and double its turnover in 5 years. At the same time the group invested in the segment of hypermarket, again under license of French Casino retailer that opened in 2005 with a 12,000 sq meters hypermarket located on the highway to Bizerte (10 minutes north of Tunis) and part of a commercial center known as Tunis City. More information can be found on the company?s website www.geant.tn. With its internal and external expansion strategy, the Mabrouk group became the leader in the food retail sector in Tunisia, with an estimated global market share of 36 percent. Ulysee Trading and Industrial Companies Group (Carrefour/Champion) The group owned by Chaibi?s family has 33 percent market share. It runs 42 store chain of small supermarket (superettes) under the Carrefour market Brand and was the first to introduce in 2001 the hypermarket segment in Tunisia with the French retailing group Carrefour. Carrefour revolutionized the retail industry in Tunisia by introducing a new format for hypermarket shopping and the idea of taking car to go shopping treating the event as an outing. The hypermarket is a cornerstone of a shopping center on the main highway between the capital Tunis and its northern suburb (La Marsa). It has a selling area of nearly 10,000 sq meters and carries a product assortment of nearly 36,000 items. One third of its assortment is made up of food items. It has an outstanding produce department, bakery, deli and food-to-go sections. This was the first such deal in the retail sector as foreign investment in this sector remains subject to the Government?s prior approval. More information can be found on the following website: www.utic.com.tn Magasin General Group (Magasin general/Promogros/Magros) Magasin General is a former state-owned supermarket chain established in 1920. The supermarket chain was privatized in 2007 and bought by a consortium composed of two important groups Poulina and Bayahi who already owns the wholesalers Promogros and Magros. Today Magasin General is a group composed of 45 supermarket-type outlets present in all the country?s provinces and 11 others outlets under the brand Promogros and Magros present in Tunis, Sousse, Gabes and Djerba. These outlets have selling areas ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 sq meters. They are more of a hybrid format carrying an assortment similar to the one normally carried by a hypermarket but in a relatively limited space. They are catering to small grocers in the way cash & carry stores do while drawing household shoppers. In 2009, the group embarked on a remodeling program for all its stores and generated about $ 300 million of food and non-food sales ranking behind Mabrouk group and UTIC. The Magasin general is the group that has the most potential to imports consumers oriented products from the US as it is the only independent modern retailers in Tunisia. The other two groups are working under a French license. More information on this retailer is available on the website www.smg.com.tn. II-2 Small Grocery Shops Small groceries shops made up of a relatively dense network of more than 200,000 outlets are still dominating the Tunisian retailing structure. Despite the fast growing supermarket industry, those shops continue to retain more than 80 percent of food retail sales. A typical outlet has a selling area between 20 and 50 sq meters, carries a hundred or so food items, and draw shoppers from an estimated 500-meter radius. In general, the shop owner, referred to as ?Attar?, knows very well his clientele and often accepts to sell goods on credit. With the expected expansion of large supermarket, it is perceived that this type of retail will steadily diminish and lose market share in the coming years. Modern retail outlets, thanks to their business model, offer a wider product choice at low prices that attract more clients especially families. However, it will take time before supermarkets obtain a dominant position and the traditional retail expected to remain an important segment, as Tunisian shoppers tend to buy food items on a daily basis in nearby grocery stores and go to larger outlets once or twice a month. The following chart illustrates the path followed by imported goods from exporters to the grocery shop?s shelves. II-3 Souks (open markets) In Tunisia all big and medium size cities have their weekly souk. A souk is an outdoor market where rural and urban households alike can buy fresh produce, fish and seafood products as well as dry groceries. Souks and street venders are the main feature of food retailing in the rural areas. Cities in urban areas have retail venues called municipal markets, which open daily and offer fresh produce and fishery products. Section III: Competition Tunisia annual agricultural, fish and forestry imports amount to US$ 2.7 billion on average. The U.S. market share is hovering around 12 percent. Imports of consumer-oriented (COP) products from all countries amounted to $894 million in 2009. The US-origin COP exports account for less than one percent as they are facing strong competition from European products. Imported goods are generally perceived as of higher quality but, in the same time, more expensive and thus of limited affordability. Tunisian demand for COP is experiencing an up-ward trend, which is likely to continue and strengthen due to structural changes related to the consumption and the distribution patterns. In the medium term, the U.S. suppliers would likely benefit from this trend especially due to favorable US$/Euro exchange rate. Section IV: Best Prospect Products As mentioned earlier, owing to an expanding middle-class and the consequent change of both consumption patterns and distribution channels, the Tunisian market is evolving in a way creating real export opportunities for value-added consumer-oriented products (COP). The consumer-oriented products that have good prospects to perform best in the Tunisian market are: 1. Tree nuts 2. Dried fruits 3. Cacao powder 4. Cookies 5. Sauces, condiments and mixed seasoning 6. Potato chips 7. Breakfast cereals 8. Beverages (energy drink?etc) The list is fairly short as Tunisia is importing mainly bulk and intermediate products from the U.S. Section V: Post Contact and Further Information The Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) at the American Embassy is the USDA/FAS office in Tunisia. It provides trade servicing and market intelligence. Services offered by OAA include market briefings, lists of importers, setting up agendas and meetings. US Embassy/ USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service Contacts Hassan F. Ahmed, Regional Agricultural Attaché (Resides in Rabat, Morocco) E-mail: Agrabat@usda.gov Phone : 212 53776 5987 Fax : 212 53 776 5493 Youssef Chahed, Agricultural Specialist E-mail: youssef.chahed@fas.usda.gov Agtunis@usda.gov Phone: 216 71 107 486 Fax : 216 71 107 101 Adresse : Zone Nord-Est des Berges du Lac, Nord de Tunis, 2045 La Goulette, Tunisia Reports that might be useful to US exporters of consumer-oriented food products to Tunisia can be found at website: http:/www.fas.usda.gov) Report Log number Date issued Food and agricultural Import TS9010 11/10/2010 regulations and Standards Exporter Guide TS9013 10/22/2010 Directorate General for Veterinary services (DGSV) Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Hydraulic Resources 30, rue Alain Savary, 1002, Tunis, Tunisia Phone: 216 71 786 833 E-mail: mag@ministeres.tn Directorate General for Agricultural Production (DGPA) Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Hydraulic Resources 30, rue Alain Savary, 1002, Tunis, Tunisia Phone: 216 71 786 833 E-mail: mag@ministeres.tn Directorate General for Crop Protection and Quality of Agricultural Products (DGPCQPA) Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Hydraulic Resources 30, rue Alain Savary, 1002, Tunis, Tunisia Phone: 216 71 786 833 E-mail: mag@ministeres.tn Directorate of Quality and Consumer Protection (DQPC) Ministry of Commerce Address:37,av.Keireddine Pacha, 1002 Tunis Phone: (216) 71 890-070 / 890 337 e-mail: mcmr@ministeres.tn National Agency of the Sanitary and Environmental Control of Products (ANCSEP) Ministry of Public Health Adresse : Appt. Idriss - 3ème Etage - Bloc N°9 - Cité Elmhiri - Berges du Lac - 2045 Tunis Phone : +216 71 960 222 e-mail : thouraya.attia@ms.tn Institut National de Normalisation et de Propriété Industrielle (INNORPI) Standards setting and intellectual property enforcement authority BP 23 - 1012 Tunis Belvédère Phone: 216 71 785 922 Fax: 216 71 781 563 E-mail: inorpi@email.ati.tn The Packaging Technical Centre (PACKTEC) Address : Cité El Khadra, par la rue Alain SAVARY. BP 64 .1003 Tunis. Tel. : +216 71 772 755 Fax. : +216 71 773 300 Email : Packtec@packtec-tunisia.com Other relevant websites ? www.cepex.nat.tn: The website of the Cepex (Export promotion agency) which has the full list of has le list of the domestic and international trade shows of interest for Tunisian businessmen ? www.Tunisie-commerce.com: A directory of trade Tunisian companies ? http://www.tunisianindustry.nat.tn: the website of the Industry promotion agency ? www.bct.gov.tn: The website of the Tunisian Central bank ? www.smg.com.tn: the website of the leading Tunisian retailer: Magasin General ? www.TunisiaOnline.com: a digital gateway to news and information resources on Tunisia, Tunisia's history, government, culture and environment.          
Posted: 04 May 2011, last updated 5 May 2011