Zanzibar is one of the world’s top three clove producers but in the face of increased competition abroad is losing its share of the global market.

Home to 1.6 million people, the archipelago of Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. Also known as the ‘Spice Islands’, the Zanzibar’s main industries are tourism and spice farming and production. There is a deep heritage in clove production and trading dating back over 150 years.

We have been working with the International Trade Centre and the Zanzibar Government to develop a branding strategy for Zanzibar Cloves connected to the wider branding opportunity for Zanzibar as a place and destination.

What was immediately apparent to us was that Zanzibar’s unique story has somehow been lost in the marketing of cloves and spices over the last 40 years.

As we walked through a small clove plantation and a nearby village on Pemba Island, we got an immediate sense of the potential of Zanzibar’s signature crop. People work together in local communities to grow, harvest, dry and collect cloves. It is part of the fabric of society. It’s easy to see how the ‘Spice Tour’ concept works for tourists because it is a total sensory experience.

In a visit to a women entrepreneurs group producing ‘spice soap’ in Stonetown, you can see how a small investment could make a big difference. Everything is currently processed by hand and the packaging is below international standards, but women running the business are determined to succeed. They have already acquired machinery to hasten production, improving efficiency and profitability.

The beauty of Zanzibar cloves is the wonderfully organic nature of the farming and processing. It is also a major impediment to growth and profitability.

Cloves are currently sold in bulk for US$8,000-$10,000 per tonne that equates to just US$0.16 cents per 20 gram jar. The job is to create a brand and packaging model that creates a premium packaged product drawing from the unique perception around Zanzibar, which can return about US$8 per unit.

Sales made in this way could increase revenue to about US$300,000 per tonne (after packaging and distribution costs). This would not only return much greater value to the producers but will also help to create new jobs and more investment through packaging and added-value processing.

This is a story about a truly organic production process. As you walk through the clove warehouses at the Port, you can sense the history of the place in the hand-made nature of packaging and distribution and the intoxicating spice aroma. The zero mechanisation process is part of the beauty of the product, but also one of the challenges that need to be overcome in modernising the industry.

It is our job to help translate a product currently sold as a commodity into a premium product that draws on the very essence of Zanzibar and the spirit of the people – exotic, organic and original.


Exotic, organic, original

David Faulks, Gen.a

Nick Morgan & David Faulks, Gen.a

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