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Côte d’Ivoire is becoming the bread basket of West Africa. Agriculture and the food industry, especially in Abidjan, have been dynamic for years, both in production and processing. Further investments will follow. Both sectors enjoy a prominent regional position. They supply not only the domestic market but also the other francophone countries of the region, such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Benin.

The increasing demand for food throughout the region and the good general economic situation in Côte d’Ivoire continue to offer positive prospects for suppliers of food and packaging technology.

The French-speaking West Africa is a rather homogenous market of about 110 million inhabitants, which is growing by more than 3 million people every year. With the exception of Guinea, all countries use the CFA franc, which is linked to the Euro. The currency facilitates not only the overseas export of machinery from Europe and Asia to Abidjan, but also the export of food within the French-speaking countries of West Africa.

Expanding retail needs high-quality food

Rising demand for high-quality locally produced food is likely to result from the rapidly expanding Ivorian retail trade. With the construction of several shopping centres, Abidjan has become the most attractive shopping metropolis along Africa’s west coast in the last four years or so. The latter major investment was the opening of the Playce shopping centre in Abidjan with the French supermarket chain, Carrefour as the largest tenant. The malls targeting the middle class offer additional sales areas, especially for more expensive and fresh food.

In addition, Ivorian agriculture produces so-called cash crops for the world markets. The country is one of the largest producers of cocoa, rubber, cashew nuts and palm oil in Africa, perhaps even in the world. Cocoa in particular is of great importance. Major international cocoa trading companies such as Cargill, Cemoi and Barry Callebaut are investing in improving smallholder farming in the area. The traders usually work hand in hand with the large state cocoa marketing company, Conseil café-cacao (CCC). The measures include improving the supply of farmers with fertilizer, agrochemicals and high-quality seedlings.

GIZ active in the cocoa sector with a project

The focus is also on the training of farmers and the commercialisation of cooperatives into a company. CCC is always looking for partners from the private sector for such measures. Donors are also involved in this area, including the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH with its “Pro Planteur” programme. Some of the major cocoa traders are also expanding the capacity of their processing facilities in Côte d’Ivoire. For example, the French company Cemoi plans to expand the capacity of its plant from the current 5 000 tons per year to 10 000 tons in 2020.The local and regional sales market is becoming increasingly interesting due to the increasing population and purchasing power. The demand for food is increasing not only in the large domestic consumer market of around 23.7 million inhabitants, but also in neighbouring French-speaking countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Niger, Togo and Benin. For palm oil, which is used regionally as cooking oil, and sugar, there is already extensive plantation cultivation, which was originally geared towards export.

Investments in palm oil and sugar cultivation

In palm oil, local producers Palmci, Sania, Société d’investissement pour l’agriculture tropicale (Siat), Palmafrique,  Africa West Industries (AWI) and Israeli Dekel Oil are expected to continue investing in the expansion of their production. Sucaf and Sucrivoir are also investing in sugar cane cultivation. Demand for corn, cassava, tomatoes and poultry meat is also rising sharply. Such foodstuffs have not been cultivated professionally to date, and projects are now increasingly taking place in these areas as well. Rice cultivation is politically supported.

There are plenty of business opportunities for international companies in Côte d’Ivoire’s agriculture. Bayer and BASF have offices in Abidjan, focusing on the sale of agricultural technology. The fact that Bayer serves from Abidjan throughout West Africa, including Nigeria and Ghana, underlines the importance of Ivorian agriculture. Demand for agricultural machinery is also high. Leading agricultural tractors are New Holland, Landini, Massey Ferguson and John Deere.

In Côte d’Ivoire, capital has increasingly been flowing into agro-processing in recent years, i.e. the processing of local agricultural products such as cocoa (Barry Callebaut, Cemoi), palm oil, rubber (SAPH), cashew nuts (Olam) and rice (Dekel Oil). The government in particular wants to increase local value creation and provides investors with investment incentives for this. The major cocoa traders, for example, recently invested a great deal in the construction of mills. About one third of the harvest is now processed locally, even though most of the value added is still generated in the industrialized countries.

Food industry in Abidjan increases its production capacities

Investments will continue to flow into increasing the capacity of the local food industry. The Abidjan industrial zones of Youpogon and Vridi are home to a large number of food producers. These include international companies such as Heineken (Brassivoire), Nestlé and local producers such as Carré d’Or (water, tomato paste, packaging), Professional Food Industry (cocoa to confectionery processors), Unifood (confectionery) and Codinorm (imported milk powder processors).

Following the major investments of recent years, the beverage market in particular is now experiencing cut-throat competition. Since Heineken and the French distributor CFAO inaugurated their brewery, Brassivoire in 2017, the former monopolist Castel, with its Société de limonaderies et brasseries d’Afrique (Sobibra), has had to fight for the market and expand its product range. Providers in particular have very good opportunities here. – Agro Food