Africa in the spotlight with €14 billion in agri-food growth

June 17, 2024

SIAL Paris is set to showcase Africa’s expanding culinary influence and sustainable innovations. Africa is rapidly growing its agri-food sector, with investments reaching €14 billion annually and the potential to soar further.

Africa, often celebrated as the birthplace of humankind, is currently experiencing a culinary and agricultural renaissance that extends far beyond its borders. This vibrant continent, rich in diverse cultures, traditions, and natural resources, is captivating global palates while providing innovative and sustainable solutions to contemporary climate and geopolitical challenges.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), investment in the agri-food sector in Africa has grown significantly in recent years, reaching approximately €14 billion annually. This figure could rise to €46 billion by 2030 if the estimates from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are accurate. These figures highlight the significant potential of food-related activities within the African continent, whose land is far from being fully exploited. In 2019, FAOSTAT reported only 240 million hectares of annual and perennial crops out of nearly 1,537 million “useful” hectares, which is less than 16%.

The challenge extends beyond satisfying the appetites of local populations to enticing global consumers with new flavours. Driven by the constant mixing of culinary cultures and the opportunity to take a journey through flavours, African specialties are making their way to international tables, attracting an ever-growing audience.

African culinary heritage, with dishes like Mafé and Yassa, has historically been underrepresented on the global stage. However, the diversity of traditions across the continent represents vast opportunities to discover new flavours and textures. Ingredients such as baobab, hibiscus (particularly bissap), rooibos, moringa, and fonio are increasingly featured in both modern and traditional recipes. The major concern in this process of “hybridisation” is to preserve the uniqueness of African cuisine and resist the global standardisation of tastes.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s ingredients, with their intrinsic qualities, align with current trends toward plant-based diets and sustainable practices. Techniques in plant control and fermentation are essential for increasing plant-based foods, while cultivating resource-efficient cereals, seeds, and tubers like sorghum, teff, and millet is crucial in regions affected by climate change.

African culinary influences are making their way into various consumption channels. In grocery stores, African drinks, sauces, and jams are increasingly popular. Fresh produce items such as acras, doughnuts, and samosas saw €24 million in sales in 2023, according to Circana. Fast food sectors are embracing African street food, with brands like Afrik’N‘Fusion gaining popularity on social media. In traditional catering, chefs like Mory Sacko blend African, Japanese, and French influences, offering gourmet African dishes at Michelin-starred restaurants.

Within the continent, ambitious young entrepreneurs are driving a silent revolution. They combine local products with innovation, solidarity, and a modern “Afropolitanism” that considers technological, economic, and food-related sovereignty. Companies like Nigeria’s Kokari Coconuts and Fit Fill, Ghana’s Sankofa Snacks, and Aguma are creating new economic models that combine indulgence and well-being, demonstrating a perfect grasp of market trends.

Africa will be more prominently represented at the upcoming SIAL Paris event than ever before. Countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco, and Tunisia have confirmed their participation, with an increased exhibition space. New exhibitors, including those from sub-Saharan regions, will unveil their latest launches, contributing to the revival of the global agri-food industry.

SIAL Paris 2024 will feature over 7,500 exhibitors and 400,000 exhibited products, with more than 285,000 professionals expected, 75% of whom are international. The event will highlight Africa’s role in providing resilient, sustainable solutions for the future, addressing major issues like food security, employment, and the sharing of value. SIAL Summits will also explore these issues in detail with the African Food Summit on 22 October 2024.

For more news, click here

Image: Keesha’s Kitchen for Unsplash

Learn more about SIAL Summits Book your spot for SIAL Summits