A good understanding of the socio-demographic and economic factors which characterize the food value chains (FVC) of traditional African fermented foods is a major prerequisite for developing and implementing scientific evidence-based policies towards the improvement of Africa’s food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. This study aims at identifying the key factors which shape the FVC for mawè and its derived products. Mawè is a traditional fermented cereal dough, widely consumed in Benin. The findings of the study show that mawè and its derived products are processed, marketed, and consumed through both ‘traditional’ and ‘traditional-to-modern’ value chains. The traditional chain plays a key role in facilitating food affordability for low-income people. However, the traditional-to-modern value chain is increasingly predominant, especially in an urbanized environment, and consequently offers greater opportunities for value chain upgrading for value-added processing of traditional fermented foods. The study offers insights into policy and research challenges in value chain upgrading.