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Baby Diapers In Africa

July 23, 2009

Products have lower penetration levels and older technology but does this market present opportunities for Western manufacturers?

According to diaper industry consultant Carlos Richer, Nigeria's diaper market is currently underdeveloped with penetration in the low single digits, as is the case with much of the African market except for some of the wealthier countries including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Angola and South Africa, where penetration levels range from 30-50%. P&G is currently the largest player throughout Africa with six factories. It is followed by Kimberly-Clark with three factories, SCA, which operates two sites, and Unicharm, which serves the market with imports from Saudi Arabia as well as the business acquired last year from South Africa's DSG.

In a presentation given last month at GDM's North African Symposium on hygiene and disposable products, Mr. Richer analyzed current diapers available on the African market. An analysis of a Pamper Baby Dry diaper purchased recently in Nigeria revealed it seemed to use older green film barrier technology to seal its diaper ends, a technology not used by P&G in North America or Europe for some time. The product lacked other advances seen in the western world such as die cuts and superabsorbent applications. The same was seen on smaller brands found in Nigeria including Poupon diapers, which lacked leg cuffs and a wide die cut pattern, and TeddyBaby with a three piece leg cuff construction and tabs attached with hot melt glue.

Stanislav Vecere, managing director of Procter and Gamble, West Africa, has reiterated his company's commitment towards expanding investment in Nigeria and its readiness to continuously touch the lives of its consumers by upgrading the production capacity of all its existing brands and churning out additional ones to the market in the West African sub-region. This assurance was made during the launch of P&G corporate newsletter, In Touch, held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Since the inception of P&G operations in Nigeria over 17 years ago, the company has remained committed to investing in the Nigerian community and is convinced that the company and Nigeria will share a long bright future together. Mr. Vecera said the plan is in top gear to accelerate investment with an ambitious plan to create a larger production platform that will increase capacity bringing in the latest technologies for better performing products and new categories that will respond to consumer aspiration and cash outlay.

"Our engagement in Nigeria is first and foremost geared towards serving Nigerian consumers but also toward developing employment within P&G and through diverse suppliers and customers with the hope of becoming the leading FMCG company not only in Nigeria but in the whole of West Africa," he said.

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