As Zimbabweans I always says, we must learn to identify, delight-in and appreciate our country's strengths, advantages and unique attributes.
We must also learn to enhance those unique national characteristics, package them and take them to the world to pleasure their senses with superior niche experiences that can command loyalty [addiction] and a premium return.
The one reason why Zimbabwean vegetables, beef, pork and chicken have always been demanded across the world is because of the exquisite taste, however, our meat is not only tasty but even when you prepare it it gives off the most pleasant aromas and delectable essence that most of us last smelt when we were home.
Zimbabwean food is an experience, an occasion and a delight upon the senses. The aroma of a Zimbabwean steak or pork sausage on a wood fire is an experience that has no parallel anywhere I have been in the world.
This tantalizing Zimbabwean gastronomic experience is derived from a mix of our simple farming practices, slow growth (slow cook), organic farming methods, no growth hormones, no chemicals, no GMO feed, passion of the farmer and the unique terroir [our soils, rocks, water, natural grasses, weeds and tree barks] which give the unique flavor to our food.
Flavor is a unique selling attribute for which people will pay a hefty premium because it stimulates the senses and emotions. Furthermore, the flavor of our food is something we need to harness and package as a brand to sell the distinctive Zimbabwean taste and experience to maximize return.
Take for example Waygu beef, it can cost anything from $100/kg, while Japanese Kobe beef starts at $300/kg and I feel Zim beef is as good or even better. However, it can sell at a lesser price but still at a relative premium.
The uniqueness of flavor together with the story built around the brand is what gave rise to international brands like Kobe beef, Waygu, Beef Churrasco (Argentina), Parma Ham, blackhead English lamb, Champagne, Chablis, Beluga Caviar and such. I have eaten all the above but nothing beats Zim beef, pork, chicken or eggs.
Most visitors who come to Zimbabwe or those of us who have left Zim will testify to the amazing flavor of our food, particularly the eggs, meats and dairy products. Some of our European millionaires who live in Zimbabwe, refuse to leave, attesting to the fact that they don't leave just because of our unique food and culture.
How many of you remember the taste of real chicken or real eggs, the eggs you could eat dinner with? Be it broiler or the road runner, I have not found the equivalent and when I came close, it was a cornish chicken I ate in France after my hosts spent €22 for a free range organic chicken.
So we as Zimbabweans must identity and acknowledge this distinction in our food as a unique selling point, and we must nurture and guard this unique, rare selling proposition to brand our products, package them and market them at a premium internationally.
This means we now have to document and standardize how it is that we have cultivated this unique flavor over the years, which in most cases simply means maintaining our organic and traditional grass feeding of our livestock.
My concern is, because Zimbabweans like to emulate and copy everything they see overseas and because we don't treasure our unique practices, sometimes we copy industrial farming practices (see the image attachef), commoditizing superior product, attenuating the quality so that we can be low-cost-leaders like everyone else to sell more quantity instead of us niching to sell less product at a premium, higher margin price to exclusive markets.
In South Africa as I speak, there is a vast market of Nigerians, Angolans and Ghanaians coming to buy premium cuts of beef: rump, sirloin, fillet at premium prices to export back to West Africa using private jets, where they mark it up astronomically. Yet South African meat is tasteless because of the extensive uses of growth hormones and GMO feed. So why can't we as Zimbabweans package our tasty beef and market it directly to west Africa or even South Africa itself at a premium.
Here are some products I see Zimbabwe having taste leadership in:
- Beef: All manner of beef products Zim is number one
- Pork: Bacon, pork chops, pork pies.
- Game meat: Buffalo, Wildebeast, Blue Dyker (Mhembwe), Warthog, Zebra, Giraffe, spring hare, crocodile.
- Guinea Fowl
- Quail (Chihuta)
- Ice Cream
- Orange Juice
- Pumpkin Leaves
The list is endless.
PS: Mazoe has taken SA by storm without any adverting or marketing but just word of mouth and superior taste.