Can African food companies compete with foreign competition?

Nuba farming 2Can small farmers like this one in Sudan compete with foreign companies? (Image source: USAID/Commons)African Agri Investment Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, which ran from 28 - 30 November, left visitors with searching questions of how African companies can compete with their foreign counterparts   

Greater urbanisation has lead to a rise in the consumption of processed foods. This gives food companies a long life product that can be highly profitable and highly exportable. Because of this, most processed food in Africa is imported from abroad. The question remains: how do African companies cash in on the processed food markets? 

Jacob de Villiers, the managing director of AFGRI Grain Management spoke at a panel discussion at the African Agri Investment Indaba in Cape Town and said “I think the major concern that we have is logistics.”

“It is cheaper to move maize from other continents to South Africa than it is from Zambia to South Africa. As long as you have that issue, you can do whatever you please but you are not going to be competitive in a global environment.”

Unati Speirs, global chief operations officer at Africa Global Trading, also believes that many food processing entrepreneurs struggle to attract the necessary investment to scale up their projects to compete with these foreign food giants. 

There are also discrepancy between international ruling in regards labelling and other issues where geographical laws to not necessarily sync. This can also affect the availability of some products, but would also require an initial economic stimuli in order to allow small food processors to align with international ruling. 

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