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25/09/2013

Africa: the food sector's exit to the crisis

Food and drink exports to Africa have skyrocketed by more than 800 million euros in the last three years. Leading importers during that period include Algeria, South Africa and Morocco and, following the Arab Spring, Libya and Tunisia as well. Spanish oil, wine, juice and beer are among the ten products for which demand is greatest.  

Gema B. Muñoz

Weak domestic consumption and the ongoing effects of the economic crisis on Spanish households have driven the food and beverage sector to search for new markets to sell their products with a view to salvaging their finances. Sector exports initially headed to the BRICs— Brazil, Russia, India and China—followed by Latin America; however, some parts of Africa are now in the running to become major importers of our products.

Data from the Spanish Food and Drink Industry Federation (FIAB) to which Wikispanishfood.com had access reveals that, since 2009, when the national economy started to suffer the toxic effects of the financial crisis, exports of Spanish food and drink to Africa have increased steadily. Total exports to Africa amounted to 1.465 billion euros in 2012, an improvement of 504 million euros in year-on-year terms.

Moreover, industry exports to Africa in the last year have reached a new high, expanding from 655 million euros in 2009 to close to 1.5 billion euros at the end of last year.

Main destinations

Spanish products—primarily oil, sugar, meat, wine, beer and juice—have been well-received in many countries on the continent, though Algerian imports have increased the most in the last three years, amounting to 217 million euros in the last year. South Africa ranks second, with imports totaling 153 million euros, followed by Morocco, with 144 million euros, and Libya, with 100 million euros. With regard to the latter, Libyan imports increased the most between 2011 and 2012.

As the instability that preceded the fall of Gaddafi dissipated, Spanish food and drink exports there surged by 227% between 2011 and 2012. Spanish imports in Tunisia in that period advanced by 161%, i.e. by less than in Libya but still notably, coinciding also with political changes there in connection with the end of Ben Ali's regime.

Tunisian imports of Spanish food and beverages amounted to 84 million euros, compared with 87 million euros in Equatorial Guinea, 83 million euros in the Seychelles, and 78 million euros in Mauritius. The Ivory Coast and Nigeria, each with imports of 50 million euros, are the last two countries among the top ten importers of Spanish food and drink in Africa.

Spanish beer and wine, among the most popular

Soybean oil ranks first in terms of products exported to Africa, totaling 281 million euros, i.e. 20 million euros more than frozen fish exports.

Spanish wine ranks third, with exports amounting to 120 million euros. But it's not the only liquid to conquer Spain's neighbor to the south. Albeit to a smaller degree, fruit juice and malt beer are among the top ten most popular products in Africa, with exports totaling 43 and 37 million euros, respectively.

Exports of baked goods reached 35 million euros, while packaged soup and broth mixes (40 million euros) and poultry (46 million euros) are also favored by consumers. 

Africa looks very much like a new El Dorado for Spanish food and drink, exports of which are providing breathing room not only for the industry, but also for the economy as a whole. The food and drink industry accounts for more than 7.5% of GDP.

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