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Sierra Leone News: Supermarkets complain of low sales of local products

As a way to help indigenous industries in Sierra Leone, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Peter Konteh, gave an ultimatum to supermarket owners to display and sell Sierra Leonean products in their supermarkets. The policy began on 1st November 2018, forcing supermarket to promote the local content policy. Most supermarkets have already started to display some Sierra Leonean products, but the shops face challenges when it comes to promoting and selling local products. Amongst the local items displayed by some of these supermarkets are pepper, bread, honey, coffee, groundnuts and banana chips. One of the supermarkets that feature a local product shelf is the Fair Way Supermarket on Wilkinson Road. According to one of the attendants of the supermarket, Ali, “We have a lot of local products in our supermarket but we are having a problem with regards to sales. People are not buying them at all; the only product they are buying at the moment is honey. He underscored that a lot of people are now involved in the trade of local products, which makes business difficult for them at the moment. “Customers are grumbling a lot with regards to such products.” There seem to be lots of new, very small businesses, now doing food production, said one shopper. The new products come from one-person businesses and not large food producers so they won’t be able to keep up with the demand – or the quality requirements of the market. Another supermarket that has complied with the order from the Ministry is Choithram’s Supermarket. The supermarket has more than three shelves displaying Sierra Leonean products. One of the attendants of the supermarket, who preferred to remain anonymous, said even though they are displaying local products, sales have been a major challenge. He added that sales of those products are difficult to come by. Goodies Supermarket at Congo Cross declined to comment on local products or sales noting he wanted to see a letter from the Trade Ministry. No local content display was visible from the entrance. MonoPrix Supermarket along Wilkinson Road at the Murray Town Junction prominently displays local products on a shelf very close to the entry. Customers can’t miss the shelf that features coffee, honey, kanye, pepper, moringa, and other products. A supermarket shopper, Donald Turay, said supermarkets are finding it very difficult to sell some of those local products compared to the imported ones because they are very expensive. “Our Sierra Leonean products are far more expensive compared to the foreign products.”  Another consumer, Aminata Kanneh, said, “People are not used to buying local products from the supermarket. The prices at supermarkets are far more expensive than in the local market. That is the main reason why those local products tend to have slow sales.” She added that a bowl of pepper that you can have for 15,000 Leones in the local market, is sold for Le35,000 in the supermarket.


By Mohamed J. Bah

Tuesday November 13, 2018.


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