Opportunities for UK food exporters in Africa are growing as the continent becomes wealthier and moves to a more Westernised diet.
Theresa May visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in August as part of a three-day trade visit to strengthen trade with African countries after the UK leaves the EU.
While the UK currently exported lower value livestock products in relatively low volumes, the market was important to provide carcase balance and deliver better value back to the farmgate, according to AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley.
“We have commercial trade with a number of African countries,” he said.
“Some of the fifth quarter products they consume in Africa we do not here. Although they are lower value products, they are absolutely critical for carcase balance.”
He said South Africa was a slightly different market.
“Sheep meat to South Africa has potential,” he added.
On the crops side, he highlighted seed potato trials in Kenya helping boost yields for their domestic production.
Potatoes were the second most important food crop after maize, with about 2-3 million tonnes grown annually.
But yields were as little as 10 tonnes per hectare from home-saved seeds.
“I also believe Tanzania has some opportunities for seed potatoes,” said Dr Hadley.
North Africa including Morocco, Egypt and Algeria, was an attractive market for cereal crops, alongside Nigeria for wheat.
Dr Hadley added African diets were changing from some of the more traditional dishes to a more Westernised diet.
“There are population increases and wealth increases,” he said.
And having the most markets available around the globe to sell produce into was ‘always good news’.
“It allows us to sell the right product at the right time to the right market,” he said.
“If we have all these markets open it means there is more money in the supply chain. In principle, it should drive competition and go back to the farmgate.”
Invest in Africa’s agricultural future
AGRICULTURAL innovation and investment in Africa is key to economic prosperity and the future of global food security.
Akinwumi Adesina, World Food Prize Laureate and president of the African Development Bank, has called for ‘disciplined investments’ into Africa, rather than aid.
He said by 2050 an additional 38 million Africans were expected to be hungry which was a ‘paradox of lack in the midst of plenty’.
Mr Adesina has said Africa continued to ‘import what it should be producing’, spending $35 billion (£27bn) on food imports each year.
He added adding value to what nations produce was the secret to their wealth, giving the example of creating chocolate where Africa received only 2 per cent of global revenues due to exporting cocoa beans rather than finished products.
And agriculture was steadily ‘taking centre stage’ in African economies with the establishment of ‘staple crop processing zones’ in African countries including Ethiopia, Togo and Mozambique.
“These agriculture zones will form the nucleus of a new wave of agro-industries and greenfield ventures, attracting agripreneurs, biotechnology firms, intellectual and capital investments,” he said.
“They will also ensure that foods are processed and packaged right where they are produced, rather than in urban centres far removed from centres of production.”