Open a business feeding Africa’s love of meat dishes
Meat (especially beef and goat, and in some countries pork and lamb) is one of the largest sources of animal protein in many diets across Africa. It is usually a favorite addition in sauces, soups, and stews and is eaten everywhere on the continent. Although meat varieties like pork and snails are not as widely eaten due to cultural or religious reasons, they are still heavily consumed in cultures where they are loved. Beef, goat, and lamb meat remain the most widely accepted and consumed meat varieties on the continent.
The UN‘s Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that the annual growth rate in meat consumption in Africa is higher than other regions of the world. According to these estimates, by 2050 the African meat market is projected to reach 34.8 million tonnes, which represents a 145 percent growth over the 2005/07 levels.
Although Africa has vast areas of space and vegetation to support livestock farming (cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, snails etc.), meat is still imported from outside the continent to support local demand. Other countries that do not import meat face a shortage in supply or high fluctuating prices. Meat export to the Gulf countries plays a role in the livestock sectors of the North African countries and the Horn of Africa region.
If you have some access to land then livestock production is a business with future, but you have to carefully work out a strategy that does not put you in line with the many local small-scale farmers who depend on fluctuating or remote local markets. Your focus would be on commercializing your livestock farm with improved breeds, improved feed, and effective management practices.
Another approach you could take is simply buying the meat and processing it in a unique way. We are strong believers in carving out distinct business niches in Africa. It enables you to be spotted quickly and own a certain market segment faster simply because not many or no one else is doing (yet) what you do. You could, for example, process the meat for supermarkets and hotels, targeting the growing middle and upper classes in the cities by selling a variety of sausages, meatballs or frozen burgers all under your brand.
A less obvious business that is hardly developed anywhere in Africa is the production of pet food for dogs and cats who usually feed on lunch leftovers. It is a distinct niche, and branded, trusted pet food could find a market among Africa‘s upper classes and upper middle classes.
Quality sausage production with your own local brand marketing to hotels and retailers
Snail farming – it is a growing trend in some West African countries like Ghana where demand currently outweighs supply.
Commercial rabbit farming is taking place in some Africa countries and could be replicated to serve top-end restaurants and hotels.
Glycerin production from rendered animal fat for the beauty industry and other industrial lubricants and preservatives.
Gelatin production for the manufacturing industry. Gelatin is used in producing a wide range of foods, cosmetics and medicines.
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
Africa has a huge livestock population but much of it is integrated in traditional farming while other livestock is held by nomadic communities, which means meat production is a valid business venture across the continent. Botswana has very visibly included its cattle sector development as one of its top national development agendas; other countries have given it less emphasis. In fact, you will find that the livestock sector is massively underdeveloped in most countries despite its huge potential.
While commercialized livestock and meat production would work anywhere in Africa in proximity to big cities, the niche of creating a local food brand where you process the meat sells best where you have a fast rising middle class that adopts increasingly Western eating habits and who have enough spending power. For example, consider the big cities in Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Morocco, Botswana, Cameroon, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
Action & Tips
Visit the local offices of related associations and meat producers to find out more about your local market.
Justin King – Nwapa Snail Farms (Ghana)
Nwapa Snail Farms started in 2010 with a very aggressive growth plan: Justin King‟s vision was to develop the largest commercial snail farm in Africa. Today the farm has expanded and can still not meet the growing demand. Once the local demand is met, there are plans to produce snails for the regional and European markets.
Anna Phosa – Pig Farming (South Africa)
In 2004, Anna Phosa started her pig farm venture in Soweto with just about $100 in hand. She bought four pigs with that money after she was introduced to pig farming by a close friend. A little less than four years later, Anna was contracted by Pick „n Pay, the South African supermarket and retail giant, to supply its stores with 10 pigs per week.
Not long after, the request grew to 20 pigs until Anna had a huge breakthrough in 2010: They wanted 100 pigs per week! In 2008, Anna signed a breath-taking contract with Pick „n Pay to supply 100 pigs per week over the next five years under a 25 million Rand deal – and if you live outside South Africa you may want to know that this is nearly 2.5 million US dollars! Anna did not have the land or the pigs, but with a contract in hand she received funding from ABSA Bank and USAID to buy a 350-hectare farm property with 4,000 animals at a time, employing about 20 staff. Truly inspiring!