ZIMTRADE, the nation’s trade development and promotion agency, says the steady rise in the global demand for sesame seeds over the years presents opportunities for Zimbabwean exporters.

Sesame, also known as "benniseed”, is a highly demanded commodity on international markets due to its versatility and nutritional value.

Sesame seeds are rich in essential nutrients, such as protein, fibre and antioxidants, making them a popular ingredient in various cuisines and food products. Additionally, sesame oil is widely used in cooking and as a base for skincare products.

In its latest report, ZimTrade said with its ideal climate and fertile soil, Zimbabwe had the “perfect” conditions to cultivate high-quality sesame seeds.

“Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is poised to unleash its sesame export potential on the global market,” the report read.

“The demand for sesame seeds on the international markets has been steadily increasing over the years with statistics of US$3 billion and US$3,6 billion recorded in 2018 and 2022, respectively, showing a 16% increase in global exports.”

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The agency said before venturing onto the sesame export market, it was crucial to analyse the prevailing prices to ensure profitability.

“The prices of sesame seeds on the international market are influenced by various factors, including supply and demand dynamics, quality standards and market trends. The global sesame export market presents a vast array of opportunities for Zimbabwean exporters,” it said.

Globally, Asia, particularly China is the largest consumer and importer of sesame seeds, importing 44% of sesame in 2022 alone. The Chinese market is known for its high demand for sesame-based products, such as sesame oil and sesame snacks.

ZimTrade said Zimbabwe could establish trade partnerships by doing market research and identifying potential importers on the markets.

“Apart from China, there are several other key markets that offer potential opportunities for Zimbabwean sesame exporters. These include the Middle East, United States, Japan, India, European countries and other African countries.

“By conducting market research and identifying potential importers on these markets, Zimbabwean exporters can establish valuable trade partnerships and expand their reach on the global sesame export market,” the report read.

It added: “By understanding the specific requirements, preferences and regulations of these markets, Zimbabwe can position itself as a reliable supplier of high-quality sesame products. Developing strong trade relationships with importers and staying updated with market trends will be instrumental in capitalising on this global demand.’’

Value addition to the sesame seeds can also be profitable as it would cater to the diverse needs of international consumers and command higher prices.

“While exporting raw sesame seeds can be lucrative, there is an opportunity to add value for the product and increase profit margins. Value-added sesame products, such as sesame oil, tahini and sesame-based snacks, have gained popularity on the global market.”

By investing in processing facilities and developing a range of value-added products, the organisation said the Zimbabwean sesame exporters could cater for the diverse needs of international consumers and demand higher prices.

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