Africa’s wheat consumption grows as imports hit 47million tonnes

AFRICA – Africa’s grain consumption has over the past decade posted remarkable growth amid increasing demand propelled by the increasing population and changing consumer habits.

According to a report by World Grain, wheat was among the major grains that recorded significant increase in consumption.

Wheat imports in the continent increased to 47 million tonnes from 27.3 million tonnes between the 2007-08 and the 2018-19 growing seasons representing a 63% increase in the commodity imports, the report by World Grain reveals.

The report further highlights changing consumer trends especially as a result of urbanisation as a major contributor to the increase, with a notable shift form maize consumption to wheat products like pasta.

It is for this reason that the grain and milling industry has attracted major investments from global players into the continent as they seek to cement their position and share in the industry.

In 2015, for instance, Switzerland-based milling and equipment manufacturer, Bühler AG, established the African Milling School in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to capitalise on the growing demand of quality milling equipment.

However, despite a projected decline on wheat imports into Africa in the long run, they will remain significant and outpace population growth over the next decade, indicates the report.

Bunge Ltd, whose investments are centred on Agriculture, food and ingredients, predicts that African wheat imports will hit 63 million tonnes by 2027-28 amid a slower growth rate in the population estimated at 21% over the same period.

According to the report by World Grain, Africa accounted to 28% of the world’s wheat trade in the 2007-08 period with the share expected to creep up to 33% by 2027-28.

The continent’s wheat consumption grew by about 100% amounting to 40 million tonnes, up from just 20 million tonnes in 2009-10.

Other multinational players such as Graincorp- an Australian grain and logistics firm- have also expressed interest towards securing a share in the African grain sector.

The firm opened a Black Sea trading office among other ventures which according to Jorn Heecks, a senior trader, is part of Graincorp’s strategy to diversify its ability to supply wheat in Africa.

“We want to be standing in front of our customers not just during the Australian marketing season, but all year round.

Kenya would be new territory for us from the Black Sea region. Tanzania is also interesting and then we will need to see if we can get a foothold in Egypt,” Jorn said.

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Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Egypt Angola and Ghana are among the major countries driving investments and growth in the grain and milling industry in Africa.

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