Outlook for Africa's snack foods industry in 2022 and beyond
People have largely spent more and snacked more frequently throughout the day not only to nourish the body, mind and soul, or to enjoy a moment of indulgence, but also to relieve stress and anxiety and act as a mood booster.
This has been a worldwide trend that was broadly reflected in Africa.
A growing middle class, changing lifestyles and increasing consumer sophistication and product awareness were found to be the driving force behind higher levels of snack buying across the continent – and all indications are that this outlook will remain, as snacks act as more than just treats for consumers.
Ongoing uncertainty and volatility presented by the pandemic mean that people will continue to snack based on different occasions and need states: predominantly to provide nourishment, relax, indulge and share moments of joy and connection with their loved ones.
Trends in snacking that we are seeing emerge and accelerate against this backdrop globally and across Africa include:
• Globally, enjoyment is still the number one driver of snacking, but consumers are becoming more conscious of their health and wellbeing and are seeking snacks that fit their unique, more active lifestyles – so are increasingly turning to sugar-free or gluten-free products both to address specific diet needs, as well as enable mindful snacking. Plant-based snacks are also growing in popularity.
• As it currently stands, affordable staple food dominates African consumers’ spending, combined with a focus on quantity rather than quality – but this will gradually change as incomes rise and as African consumers continue to move up the ‘food curve’.
Africa’s market potential remains high as the middle-income segment is growing at 5% year-on-year, and according to the World Bank the population in Africa is forecast to double to about 2.2 billion potential consumers by 2050. The FMCG sector stands to benefit from this growth immensely, given that the sector provides commodities, necessities, as well as confectionary at the convenience of the consumer.
• As a result, once basic needs have been met, consumers will start focusing on quality improvements such as including more meat in their diet and buying a higher-quality brand of the same product. There is already an increasing focus in markets across Africa on indulgence and on ready-to-eat, convenient snacks that fit into people’s busy lifestyles, particularly as more people begin return to post-lockdown lives.
According to an International Agricultural Trade Report, the hectic schedules of working professionals and ever-expanding middle class is driving significant demand for ready-to-eat, convenient snacks and easy-to-prepare packaged foods. As part of this, the market for indulgence categories such as sweet biscuits, snack bars, fruit snacks, and savoury snacks is growing in sub-Saharan Africa – and a wide range of products are expected to see a sharp increase in demand over the next few years.
Local snacks and preferences remain important to African consumers and will continue to do so going forward: as a case in point, Chin chin in Nigeria is a preferred on-the-go snack, and its popularity is likely to continue to grow.