Penetrating the UK Market


In this comparative study, we delve into the export dynamics of Tanzania and Kenya to the United Kingdom. We explore the current state of exports, challenges faced, and strategic approaches for successfully penetrating the UK market.

For East African businesses with ambitions of reaching a global audience, the UK market presents a lucrative opportunity. With its strong consumer base, established trade ties, and historical connections to the region, the UK offers a familiar yet competitive landscape. This article explores the potential of the UK market for Tanzanian and Kenyan businesses, highlighting the unique advantages and considerations for each country.

Kenya: A Gateway to East Africa

Kenya boasts a well-developed export sector and a strong presence in the UK market. Kenyan exports, particularly flowers, coffee, and tea, are already familiar to British consumers. This existing trade relationship provides a solid foundation for Kenyan businesses looking to expand their offerings. Additionally, Kenya’s established infrastructure and government support for exporters make it an attractive entry point for businesses seeking to navigate the complexities of international trade.

However, the established presence of Kenyan products also translates to a more competitive market. Businesses will need to focus on product differentiation, strong brand identity, and competitive pricing to stand out.

Tanzania: Unveiling Unexplored Potential

Tanzania offers a unique proposition for UK consumers. With its vast natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, Tanzania presents a virtually untapped market for tourism, agricultural products, and handicrafts. This lack of competition allows Tanzanian businesses to position themselves as providers of authentic and exotic products.

However, Tanzania’s infrastructure is less developed compared to Kenya. Businesses will need to invest in logistics and marketing to bridge the gap between production and UK consumers. Additionally, building brand awareness and establishing trust in a new market might require a more targeted approach.

Key Considerations for Both Countries

  • Understanding UK consumer preferences: Conducting market research to understand current trends, quality expectations, and pricing structures in the UK market is crucial.
  • Compliance and regulations: Familiarizing oneself with import regulations, product safety standards, and intellectual property laws in the UK is essential for a smooth entry.
  • Building strong partnerships: Partnering with established UK distributors or retailers can significantly ease market entry and product distribution.


The UK market presents a significant opportunity for both Tanzanian and Kenyan businesses. By leveraging their unique strengths and carefully addressing the challenges, businesses from both countries can successfully establish themselves in this competitive landscape. Kenya’s established presence offers a springboard for further growth, while Tanzania’s untapped potential creates a niche for unique and authentic products. By understanding the nuances of the UK market and building strategic partnerships, East African businesses can achieve a successful and sustainable presence in this global hub.

Current UK Exports
The UK is a major exporter of both goods and services. Here’s a breakdown of what they typically export:

Top UK Goods Exports:

  • Vehicles: Cars are a major UK export, with a strong reputation for quality and engineering.
  • Machinery: The UK exports a wide range of machinery, including gas turbines and other power generation equipment.
  • Pharmaceuticals: The UK has a thriving pharmaceutical industry, exporting a variety of medicines and healthcare products.
  • Energy Products: Crude oil is a significant UK export, though its ranking may fluctuate.
  • Other Goods: The UK also exports a wide range of other goods, including chemicals, food and beverages, and manufactured products.

Data Sources:

For the most recent data on UK exports, you can refer to these resources:

Tanzania’s Exports to the UK in 2022

Tanzania’s total exports to the UK in 2022 amounted to $21.6 million. Here’s a breakdown of the top products exported:

  • Coal Briquettes: These compressed fuel sources made from coal dust were the leading export at $14.6 million.
  • Tea: Tanzanian tea remains popular in the UK, with exports valued at $13.7 million.
  • Tropical Fruits: Mangoes, pineapples, and other tropical fruits contributed $4.27 million to Tanzania’s exports to the UK.

It’s important to note that Tanzania’s exports to the UK have seen a decline in recent years. Compared to 2017, the total value has dropped by over 40%.

Here are some resources for further information:

Over the past 27 years, Tanzania’s exports to the UK have grown at an average annual rate of 0.65%, steadily increasing from £32.7 million in 1995 to £38.9 million in 2022.

Kenya’s Exports to the UK in 2022

Kenya’s exports to the UK in 2022 were significantly higher compared to Tanzania’s. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the value reached $356 million.

Here’s a breakdown of Kenya’s top exports to the UK in 2022:

  • Cut Flowers: Fresh cut flowers are a major Kenyan export, and the UK is a key market. The value of cut flowers exported to the UK in 2022 was around $119 million.
  • Tea: Similar to Tanzania, Kenyan tea is another popular beverage in the UK. Kenyan tea exports to the UK were valued at approximately $111 million in 2022.
  • Other Vegetables: This category includes a variety of fresh vegetables exported from Kenya to the UK, with a total value of $36.1 million in 2022.

It’s worth noting that Kenya’s exports to the UK have shown a positive trend in recent years, increasing at an annualized rate of over 8% since 2017.

For further information on Kenya’s exports to the UK, you can refer to the following resource:

Current Standing

As of the end of Q3 2023, the total UK imports from Tanzania and Kenya were as follows:

Type of ImportsTanzaniaKenya
Goods£33 Million (15.8%)£394 Million (51.1%)
Services£176 Million (84.2%)£377 Million (48.9%)
Total£209 Million£771 Million

Strategies for Tanzania to Penetrate the UK Market

To enhance its competitiveness and achieve successful market penetration, Tanzania can adopt the following strategies:

1. Quality Assurance and Standards Compliance:

  • Adhere rigorously to UK food safety standards.
  • Obtain relevant certifications to build trust with UK consumers.

2. Product Diversification and Innovation:

  • Develop unique, value-added food products tailored to UK preferences.
  • Explore items such as plantains from the Caribbean, yams from Ghana and Nigeria, sweet beans, brown beans, black beans, and Gari cassava from Ghana.

3. Investment in Infrastructure:

  • Improve transportation networks, storage facilities, and port infrastructure.
  • Ensure seamless export operations.

4. Market Research and Partnerships:

  • Conduct thorough market research to understand UK consumer needs.
  • Establish partnerships with UK retailers and distributors.

5. Brand Promotion and Marketing:

  • Implement targeted marketing campaigns to raise awareness of Tanzanian food products in the UK.

By implementing these strategies, Tanzania can position itself for stability and long-term growth in the export sector.

Supplying Quality Products to the UK Market

FREMU LTD is committed to sourcing and supplying high-quality products to meet the diverse needs of our customers in the UK. To achieve this, we are actively seeking collaboration with suppliers of the following products: plantains from the Caribbean, yams from Ghana and Nigeria, sweet beans, brown beans, black beans, and Gari cassava from Ghana and Nigeria, as well as frozen vegetables like okra, cassava leaves, and tilapia. Additionally, we are interested in sourcing red hot chili, bird’s eye green chili, catfish, fresh and frozen cassava, various types of beans, maize flour (Dona), soft drinks, cooking oil, avocado, and a variety of nuts. If you are a producer or distributor of any of these products and are interested in a partnership, we invite you to collaborate with us to bring these authentic and quality products to the UK market. Let’s work together to create a successful and sustainable supply chain. Please contact us at FREMU LTD to discuss how we can collaborate for mutual benefit.

This article was prepared by FREMU LTD, a company registered under the number SC713340.