Kenya exported its first batch of anchovies, known locally as ‘omena,’ to China in June, thanks to a bilateral agreement signed between the two countries in January 2022.
According to Wu Peng, Director-General, Department of African Affairs, MFA, China, on X.com, the 52-tonne shipment of omena was delivered under an agreement that benefits both countries.
“More is on the way, “Peng said, “The FOCAC #Green Channel for African agricultural exports to China is bringing tangible benefits to African and Chinese people,” he posted.
The first batch of Kenyan wild anchovy products made their debut at the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in late June, signaling a new development in China’s efforts to encourage the import of more high-quality African food and agricultural products, expand domestic consumer choice, and increase trade between China and Africa.
The shipment was handled by Huawen Food, a local Kenyan subsidiary of the Jinzai Food Group, and is intended for use in the Chinese snack market.
The company operates out of Kwale on Kenya’s coast, relying on hundreds of local fishermen to supply its processing plant with locally caught ‘omena’ for drying and packaging.
Anchovies, those terrifying slivers of fish, have a taste so pungent, so intensely fishy and salty, that they can make even the heartiest eater recoil from their punch when served incorrectly.
They are served in Kenya with the local staples–ugali and greens–and are now poised to become the next moneymaker for the Kenyan fishing sector, with Liu Zhiyong, managing director of Huawen Food, stating that the company’s Kenyan operation is a high-margin venture.
Anchovies are used in a variety of dishes in China, from stir-fries to street snacks and salads to heartier meals such as achovy fried rice.
Gastronomists are fascinated by anchovies because of their flavor, which has been described as “umami,” an almost indescribable fifth taste that elevates your eating experience beyond salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.