Mighty Moringa in the Marketplace: Enormous Opportunity, Enormous Challenge

Highlights:
  • The Moringa tree is believed to be one of the most nutritious plants on earth (see bullet-points below).
  • It is a fast-growing, hardy tree that has multiple uses, including nutrition for humans and livestock (from leaves and stems), oil extraction (seeds), as a growth hormone for other crops, as a bio-fuel crop, for reforestation, and as green, all-natural fertilizer, among other uses.
  • Moringa stenopetala variety is native to southern Ethiopia.
  • What, if any, are the market opportunities for this tree – specifically as concerns nutrition?

A few weeks ago I was out in the garden here at SABG when Mr. Röschli introduced me to the Moringa tree. He said its leaves were among the most nutritious vegetables in the world, and that I should ‘just look it up on the internet, you’ll see.’

Well now, that’s quite a statement. Immediately I went to work to learn more about this obscure tree. Here’s some of what I’ve discovered thus far…

A report by Trees for Life Journal claims that, gram-for-gram, Moringa has:

–           7X the vitamin C of oranges

–          4X the vitamin A of carrots

–          4X the calcium of milk

–          3X the potassium of bananas

–          2X the protein of yogurt

Further, Lowell Fuglie of the Church World Service reports, ‘For a child aged 1-3, a 100 g serving of fresh cooked leaves would provide all his daily requirements of calcium, about 75% of his iron and half his protein needs, as well as important amounts of potassium, B vitamins, copper and all the essential amino acids. As little as 20 grams of leaves would provide a child with all the vitamins A and C he needs….For pregnant and breast-feeding women…[a] 100 g portion of leaves could provide a woman with over a third of her daily needs of calcium and give her important quantities of iron, protein, copper, sulfur and B-vitamins.’ [1]

Interestingly, this tropical, fast growing (3 – 5 meters/ year), drought resistant, and hardy tree (zones 9-10 on the USDA hardiness scale) thrives in the same areas of the globe where malnutrition is most prevalent. Seems it was put there to serve a specific purpose.

From what I’ve read, nutrition is only the beginning. A high quality, edible vegetable oil – supposedly comparable to Olive oil – can be extracted from the seeds of Moringa, which contain roughly 40% oil. Historically, Moringa oil was used in lubricating watches and was then referred to as Ben oil. The oil has also been used in ointments (because it retains delicate scents), as well as in making quality soap.

The leaves of Moringa can be pressed to obtain a juice that, when mixed with 32 parts water and sprayed on fruits and vegetables, acts as a growth hormone. Yield increases of between 25-30% have been reported by Nikolaus Foidl and others when using Moringa as a growth hormone.[2] Moringa shoots can also be plowed under and used as a natural fertilizer to prepare soils for other crops (because the tree is fast-growing, the seedlings can be plowed under after only 25 days). The seeds, and the presscake leftover after oil extraction, can be used to treat turbid water.[3] Finally (well, I’m sure there’s uses of this plant that I have left out, but these are the main highlights), the plant makes a strong fodder for livestock – especially meat and dairy cattle. A study by BIOMASA reported milk yields and weight increases of 30% when Moringa leaves constituted 40-50% of feed.

Naturally, the next question in my mind was what, if any, are the market opportunities for this plant? And, just as important, how do you increase its adoption among the rural community in Ethiopia to increase health, nutrition, land stewardship, and income generation?

As for the market opportunities, at this point Moringa appears to garner a small, but growing, niche in the health and nutrition supplement market. An online search yields a few companies, most from India, but one from the US, that offer varying products based in ground Moringa leaves and espoused for their nutritional benefits. As a naïve consumer without prior knowledge of Moringa, however, I would give little thought to ever purchasing any of these products. For one thing, the nutritional claims seem outrageous (even though, after brief research, there are at least plenty of others saying the same things, and the claims are not out-of-line with the statements I’ve made above). Additionally, the websites do not project trustworthy, upstanding, reputable companies with which you would want to do business or purchase from – especially if you’re purchasing an edible product. Just visiting the websites gave me a queasy feeling about Moringa, and the online marketplace for this incredible plant. Maybe it was the way the organizations projected themselves and their products. Nevertheless, they turned me off.

Many of the India based companies would not even provide a price – you had to specify a quantity, and request a quote via email (I hate giving out my email address to unknown organizations, even though I did, and after four days I am still waiting on the quote). The US based company doesn’t make me want to purchase their product any more than the India based companies do, and it seems they are trying to build sales through a pyramid model – providing commission for ‘distributors’ based on sales and recruiting other ‘distributors’. I generally detest the pyramid sales model, which to me comes across as pestering and not reputable – if you have a quality product that will really enhance people’s lives, word-of-mouth, customer service, integrity, and a well-branded product line should suffice.

When considering the market for Moringa leaves, my initial thought is that there are two main markets – one in the developed world and one in the developing world. In the developed world the potential market consists of the ‘health conscious, organic, fair-trade, pro small-holder famers’ demographic. In the developing world, the potential market is primarily the millions of people who live on $2/ day or less and that are in need of extremely affordable nutritional supplements. The developing world would also yield a more upscale, educated market similar to the developed world target market, though it is much smaller (but growing). Targeting the higher-end clientele in the developing world could increase adoption among those at the base of the pyramid by making the product appear more mainstream. I don’t know how else to describe the market I am envisioning, but hopefully that gives you an idea of the prospective demand I envision.

Obviously, this leads to two very different price points and marketing strategies, but I believe one enforces the other. I have often thought about the specialty coffee market when trying to develop my thoughts on what a real Moringa market and supply-line would look like. Though the specialty coffee industry has its flaws, some end operators in this market do it well (or at least appear to – check out 3 Cups in Chapel Hill, http://www.3cups.net). By doing it well, I mean they value their customers, the in-store and online customer experience, help build customer knowledge of the product(s), and promote the small-holder farmers from whom they take great pride in purchasing from at fair prices. Thus, they connect the customer, the product, and the farmer in a way that enhances the well-being of all.

Moreover, coffee is not only consumed by those in the developed world who frequent coffee shops such as 3 Cups. While 3 Cups sources many of its coffee lines from Ethiopia, the local people surrounding these production areas also consume coffee themselves. Granted, there is an export grade and a domestic grade coffee, but the difference is hardly noticeable. I believe there could be a similar demand for Moringa – an export grade powder, and a domestic grade powder. That way, you can vary the price point and ensure that those who may be most in need of the nutritional benefits can afford the Moringa powder. Further, the more popular the product becomes, hopefully the more people will plant it in their own home gardens to ensure their families’ health.

Challenges abound in creating an essentially new market. First of all, introducing a new food/ nutritional product, especially in the developed world, requires overcoming regulatory hurdles. Extensive testing would likely have to be done in order to be accepted by a regulatory agency such as the Food and Drug Administration. Though, finding at least one US based company selling Moringa powder based drinks leads me to believe that some of these hurdles have been overcome.

Beyond overcoming regulatory hurdles, there are challenges associated with sourcing sufficient quantity and quality from small-holder farmers. As has been the case in the specialty coffee industry, the market can and will drive this.

I believe, however, there would need to be extensive training conducted to improve organic land management, water management, and cultivation practices (specifically drip irrigation systems, composting, and ecologically diverse farms). This ensures a higher quality product, while simultaneously increasing environmental stewardship among small holder farmers – absolutely critical to any long-term plans. Likewise, this should be incorporated into the marketing strategy so as to inform consumers that their purchases are reinforcing agricultural practices that must be followed if the world hopes to ever feed its growing population in a manner that nourishes both humans and their environmental resources (as the former cannot long exist without the later).

On this note, some glowing reports have been written concerning the agro-forestry practices of the Konso people, who cultivate Moringa in southern Ethiopia.[4] Regardless, best practices for cultivation must be determined and the market should demand these practices be followed in producing the desired end-product. Reputable organic certification (likely an enormous challenge in and of itself), as well as fair trade certification may also need to accompany an organizational guarantee which defines the farming practices the organization deems acceptable when purchasing Moringa. These practices should be centered on an eco-agriculture approach to farming. Eco-agriculture works to simultaneously meet three goals: a) conserve a full complement of native biodiversity and ecosystem services, b) provide agricultural products and services on a sustainable basis, and c) support viable livelihoods for local people.[5]

The next challenge is meeting quality control standards for export, both in product and packaging. More information is also need on the difference between Moringa Stenopetala variety (native to Ethiopia) and the Moringa Oleifera variety (grows in Ethiopia, but not extensively, and is native to India). It is believed that both varieties are highly nutritious, but most testing has been conducted using the more well-known Moringa Oleifera variety. Additional information is also needed concerning Ethiopia’s regulations in the food and drug industry.

On Wednesday I will be travelling down to Arba Minch and then Konso on Thursday to see if I can purchase Moringa leaves as well as some seeds. I will try to dry the leaves and grind them into a fine powder (for personal consumption/ testing). This will at least give me an idea of the price point, and an opportunity to speak to locals who have long believed in the benefit of Moringa and have experience in cultivating it. I will keep you all up-to-speed via a post-trip debrief and pictures.

JTV
Awassa, Ethiopia


[1] ‘The Moringa Tree’ by Dr. Martin L. Price, 1985, revised by Kristin Davis, 2000.

[2] ‘The Potential of Moringa Oleifera for Agricultural and Industrial Uses’ by Foidl N., Makkar H.P.S, and Becker K; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 2001.

[3] ‘The use of Moringa oleifera seed as a natural coagulant for water and wastewater treatment’ by Dr. Geoff Folkard and Dr. John Sutherland, 2001.

[4] ‘Konso agriculture and its plant genetic resources’ by J.M.M. Engels and E. Goettsch, Cambridge University Press, 1991.

[5] ‘Understanding Ecoagriculture: A Framework for Measuring Landscape Performance,’ Louise E. Buck, Jeffrey C. Milder, Thomas A. Gavin, Ishani Mukherjee, 2006.

72 thoughts on “Mighty Moringa in the Marketplace: Enormous Opportunity, Enormous Challenge

    1. We want to buy moringa oleifera leaves powder on monthly bases IN LARGE QUANTITY but the person or company must have FREE SALES CERTIFICATE from their FOOD and DRUG regulatory AGENCY.
      If you can meet the requirement contact us immediately. on email: chizaramchizaram@yahoo.com or on tel: 2348188024088

  1. Dear Sir or Madam
    I have visited you website. I have ready about moringa. It is for this reason I am asking for Moringa oleifera seeds to cover about two hectares. How is the market for moringa powder, who are the buyers and what are the prices. I am very interested in developing the moringa plantation as soon as possible.
    Your response in this matter will be of great assistance and appreciate it in anticipation
    Many thanks
    Edson Makopa

      1. Dear Sir
        I need moringa seed for 4 ha. How much will it cost per kilo.
        Edson Makopa

  2. i would like to phurchase moringa seed and powder in bulk,please contact me.i am in botswana and would like a vbery good price

    1. To whom it may concern,

      Unfortunately, I do not currently have a ready supply of moringa seed or powder. Possibly in the future. I will let you know.

      Best,
      JT Vaughn

    2. I am in South Africa and I have Moringa farm. I can supply you with any amount you require on monthly basis. Contact me on this email address :

  3. “Extensive testing would likely have to be done in order to be accepted by a regulatory agency such as the Food and Drug Administration. ”
    I don’t believe the FDA will have anything to do with the basic plant. It is just another vegetable.

    I would start by using it as a basic food ingredient (Moringa Leaf Ice Cream anyone? Bread? How about cookies?

    We plan to test the domestic market with USDA Certified Organic Moringa Oleifera in the coming year.

    We also expect to experiment with the plant as fodder and as a plant growth spray.

    We are currently growing some test seedlings.

    1. Gary,

      Thanks for your comments. After further research, I too agree that the FDA would not be interested in regulating moringa, as it is just another vegetable. From were will you source the USDA organic moringa oleifera you plan to market? What market will you be catering to? Where is your project located? Would love to hear more – let me know at jtvaughn@gmail.com.

  4. Dear John,

    I am from India (Maharashtra) and planning to cultivate Moringa for further processing the leaves into Moringa Leaves powder on 5 Acres of land. Wish to interact with you through mails, if you permit.

    Kindly let me know if this is possible as we may share some important inputs on the matter. We may further take it for business opportunity for both of us.

    Thanks.

    Mandar

  5. John,

    I am just stumbling across your article- I would love to get in contact with you. I am in the midst of starting a non-profit corporation centered around the Moringa tree. I am about to begin my last semester in college, I will graduate in december with an Advertising/Public Relations degree, Photography degree, and marketing minor. I am planing to use my education to create a promotion in the U.S. (of moringa products) in order to create on-going relief efforts (utilizing the tree) into 3rd/4th world countries. I would really like to get in contact, you seem like an “out-of-the-box” thinker I would love to work with. Thank you so much! Kate

  6. I am in Ethiopia looking to get in to exporting good quality moringa leaf/powder from Ethiopia if any one out there is looking to import please contact me I can send you a sample. I am looking for a long term committed buyer.

  7. We are Agronomists in the process of forming a n NGO Moringa industrial Pack with about 20 hectares of Virgin Land using good Agronomic Practices including organic irrigation and advaced layering techniques. our yield projection indicates about 40MT of powder, about 50MT of benn oil and cake per annum. we are fervently looking sustainable markets and contacts please write to us in full confidence yomige@yahoo.com, and agrolinkresources@gmail.com

    1. Dr. Joel, are you still in the moringa business? How is it going? Where in Tanzania is your farm?

  8. I can produce a moringa seed and leaf. I have a moringa farm in Ghana.

    Please contact me as immediatly as you can

    1. Contact ECHO – they may be able to send you some seeds (www.echonet.org). If you are in Ethiopia, let me know: there is a shop in Awassa that sells moringa seeds and I can get their contact information for you.

  9. Am from zambia, and planning to start selling moringa leaves in powder form. I would like to know how much it is per kg of moringa powder.

  10. I sell lots of Moringa, please feel free to contact me in Ivory Coast (22508756464) here is my correct number 22508756464
    Thank You

  11. I like this article very much. Im a pharmacuetical technologist from Kenya. I first heard about Moringa & its benefits from my uncle who lives in a place called Kocholia, in Western Kenya, on the border point of Malaba, between Kenya & Uganda. He has planted the Moringa tree on about 5acres of his land. It seems the claims that have been made about the benefits of the Moringa tree bear some truth. Given the deteriorating environmental conditions, grass has become very scarce in the area & so even in the absence of detailed scientific research &information, he tried & has managed to use the plant to his advantage e.g. His few livestock have experienced accelerated growth & milk production. Even the native variety of poultry that he keeps seem to have thrived on food mixed with the tree’s dry&ground leaves and occassionally seeds. He & his household also use the same as additives/flavours to food. They also use the powder like one would use instant coffee powder with milk everyday. When the season is ‘good’ & the seeds are in plentiful supply, they simply cook them with other foodstuffs like beans,maize, rice, cassava,local vegetables,groundnuts,sessame etc and then consume them as part of their meal. I cannot however, claim here, that they’re any better healthwise, since they’ve always been in excellent shape, but I can say that they’ve not experienced any untoward physical condition(ill-health) since they started to consume the Moringa tree’s ‘products’, for around four years now. I would like to invite anyone out there, who is interested in this Moringa tree, in whatever capacity, to come to My uncle’s farm & get a first hand opportunity to learn more & hopefully add to the little knowledge-base that currently exists on this tree. I can be reached at: carey.ibutari@gmail.com or careyibutari@yahoo.com
    Im looking forward to ‘hearing’ from anyone soon.

  12. Carey,

    That is all great to hear! I hope to make it out your uncle’s farm sometime. Very excited to hear how he is using moringa to increase the health of his family, land and animals. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Best,
    JT

  13. Hi my name is Patrick..I sell quality Moringa moringa powder(palin and chocolate flavouerd) in bulk and for personal consuption. I can also do a small size (25g, 50g, and 100g) packaging and labelling for u. email me: bophelohealthproducts@ovi.com South Africa (Limpopo)

  14. Hey, I am in Ethiopia and looking forward somebody who is willing to accept the moringa products abroad. i have got the means to export items out of Ethiopia. As of now I export coffee in large quantities and I am thinking of adding moringa to my export items. so if anybody is interested i am willing to Supply.

  15. Thomas: Great to hear from you and thanks for leaving a comment. I’ll keep you in-mind if I hear of someone willing to purchase moringa. How much could you export and at what price?

    1. I grow the Moringa Stenopetala, here in the US. Always looking for more seeds, as two of our suppliers have “disappeared”, or at least, they will no longer respond to us. If anyone has a few kilos of Moringa Stenopetala seeds, please let me know. Thank you.

      1. I can supply this from Ethiopia. Tell me what kgs you want and the price including postal service.

    2. My very dear JT Vaughan,

      I have about 3000 standing trees of moringa oleifera in my moringa farm. My Moringa farm is based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. We produce high potent MORINGA elixir leaf powder and we are ready to supply to any would-be customer(s) and importers at reasonable price. If you will like to visit our Moringa farm, pls contact us on our email address – themoringapeople2010@gmail.com and phone No. +234-818-602-5774.

      We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

      Thanks.

      Laja Famuyiwa,
      NIGERIA

  16. hey,I am Melaku Adamu from Southern Ethiopia.i would like to sale moringa leaf and seed to exporters in ethiopia.please contact me.

  17. We want to buy moringa oleifera leaves powder IN LARGE QUANTITY but the person or company must have FREE SALES CERTIFICATE from their FOOD and DRUG regulatory AGENCY.
    If you can meet the requirement contact us immediately. on email: chizaramchizaram@yahoo.com or on tel: 2348188024088

  18. We want to buy moringa oleifera leaves powder on monthly bases IN LARGE QUANTITY but the person or company must have FREE SALES CERTIFICATE from their FOOD and DRUG regulatory AGENCY.
    If you can meet the requirement contact us immediately. on email: chizaramchizaram@yahoo.com or on tel: 2348188024088

    1. Hello Chizaram,I’m a Tanzanian business man,I can supply to you oleifera leaves powder in large quantity.I have free sales certificate.give me your offer then I can work on it.waiting eagerly to hear from you ASAP .
      Best regards
      Chris

  19. Iam from South Africa and will be selling moringa dry leaves and powder soon, I would like to find buyers please skype me on coco93979397

  20. I’ happy to find this
    I am from Burkina Faso in West Africa.and will be also selling moringa dry leaves and powder very soo. I would like to find buyers.
    Please, e-mail me

  21. Hello!

    I am the manager of a company specializing in the sale of raw materials and my structure is based in Burkina Faso.

    Moringa Leaves:
    ◦Leaves contain 27 % Protein (dry weight) with a complete Amino Acid Profile and are very rich in Vitamins and Minerals
    ◦The Leaves, Stems and Twigs all contain Protein and can be used as a Highly Nutritious Fodder for Cows, Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, etc
    ◦Moringa Leaves, stems and twigs are excellent source materials for Biogas Reactors

    •Moringa Seeds:
    ◦Seeds have 30 – 40% Oil and a High Protein content
    ◦Seeds can make a highly nutritious feed meal
    ◦Moringa Seed Oil can be used to make Biodiesel
    ◦Moringa Seed Oil resists rancidity, is highly stable and is very sort after in the cosmetics industry
    ◦Moringa Seed Oil is used as a lubricant for fine machinery
    ◦Ground Moringa Seed Powder is an excellent water purifier removing 99% of all bacteria, algae and sediment from Water

    Origin: BURKINA FASO
    Campaign: 2012/2013
    Delivery Capacity: 5000 Tons/Year
    Packaging: according buyer
    Delivery: 500 tones at least every two months

    If you are a serious buyer, please write to this address: mlpservices.sarl@ymail.com

    Best Regards!

    Mr Drissa YAGO

  22. I am Mr. Effah in Ghana. I have plenty moringa leave powder and seeds to sell every month from Ghana. Buyers all over the world can contact me for serious moringa business right now on 00233266798085; 00233209370005 or oilincome@gmail.com.

    Thanks
    Effah

  23. Am Laja Famuyiwa and am based in Ogun State, Nigeria. I am the CEO of a MORINGA PRODUCTION COMPANY. We produce high-quality Moringa leaf powder for export. People have used our Moringa leaf powder to treat and cure different ailments and diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers, gallbladder stond, kidney cases, etc.

    Our business doors are wide opened to receive orders from importers foreign companies and individuals alike.

    Thank you and God bless.

    Laja Famuyiwa
    CEO, BB-LEKWORTH MORINGA FARMS

  24. Am Laja Famuyiwa. Am the CEO of a MORINGA PRODUCTION COMPANY based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria with about 3000 standing trees of Moringa oleifera. We produce high-potent Moringa elixir leaf powder.

    Our business doors are wide opened for importers – foreign companies and private individuals alike.

    My contact information are – +234-818;602-5774, email – themoringapeople2010@gmail.com

    Thank you and God bless.

    Laja Famuyiwa
    CEO! BB-LEKWORTH MORINGA PRODUCTS

  25. Am Gemeda Gelge. I have Moringa products, Leaf powder, oil, seeds based in Ethiopia. I produce specialy high quality Moringa leaf powder.

    My business doors are wide opened for importers – foreign companies and private individuals alike within the country and abroad.

    My contact information are – +251-911;191-536, email – gemeda614@gmail.com

    TKind Regards.

    Gemeda Gelge

  26. SIR
    I AM A FARMER IN TOGO AND HAVE MORINGA IN LARGE QUANTITY, PLEASE SHOW ME THE BUYERS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO IMPORT THESE PRODUCTS FROM ME.
    THANKS
    LARRY FARMS

  27. I am in Nigeria have been studying moringa for over some months now am presently growing about 300 trees presently @ ikorodu, i just secured 2 hectares in ogun state, nigeria and ready to plant seeds this raining season pls i will be obliged if i can get advice from xperienced farmers coz i observed dat wen rain fall cocoherently the leaves tuens yello… Hapy farming

  28. I am producer of moringa leaf and seed, I am in Nigeria, can come and see my product if it can meet your market over there.

  29. Hello, I am Mr Lohit Raju from Karnataka, India…..I Can supply fresh moringa leaves….we are widely open for both domestic and international market

  30. I am also intrested in stating a biz of procesing dry moringa leaves to powdered form bc we hav it in large quantity in jos. I need help on marketing d product locally n internationally.pls help by mailin me. Thanks

  31. I have just the miracle of moringa tree please tell me more I want to start growing this plant here in zambia.

  32. Dear sir,
    It is very interesting to read comments coming from the would- be consumers and marketers.We grow and process Moringa Stenopetala here in Ethiopia.Just for info we have produced certificates that justifies our products are genuine and pure.Our company is called Addis Berry Tea Packing & Wholesale Trading Enterprise.Any body or company who wants for importing purpose or any other purpose can contact us via our address.Also you can call us at following mobile number.

    Hanetse M.Hailegnaw ,Marketing Manager & technical adviser +251-0913-667356 or
    Abiy T.Redi, Managing Director +251-0911-871561

  33. Dear Sirs/Madam Its very interesting to note the promotional messages of Moringa buyers n sellers in this site- however I used to live n do my own business in the USA for 16 yrs n found that Moringa oleifera is being cultivated there n lots of Moringa leaves powder is being imported from India – now I am back in India – cultivate large acreage of Moringa only for leaves-into ultra dense cultivation of Moringa – our unit manufactures Moringa leaves powder and the ultra quality is certified by Lacon Germany / India – however we can export 100% pure Moringa leaves powder @ reasonable prices -also we sell Moringa PKM I seeds with 95% germination for cultivation you may contact Menon GreenPlanet organic farms Tenkasi India greenplanettrust@gmail.com 0091 944 568 0483

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