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News

The processing tomato market in Africa

08/03/2024 - Espoir Olodo
Agriculture stands as the main growth lever in Africa, contributing nearly 25% to the continent’s GDP and 60% to total employment. The resource-rich status and the great potential it possesses make Africa an ideal land for agricultural development.
Indeed, the continent is home to 60% of the world's arable land and the crops grown there range from cereals, which make up the bulk of cultivated land and the staple diet, to fruit and vegetables, which play a key role in adding value to the agricultural sector and changing people's eating habits.


Trade and Consumption market

Along with potatoes and onions, tomatoes are among the most widely consumed vegetables on the continent. The majority of recipes incorporate a tomato base, with some sauces south of the Sahara containing up to 45% tomato. Nigeria is a notable example, where the market for tomatoes and tomato-based products is one of the largest in Africa, with annual per capita consumption exceeding 10 kg.

With population growth and urbanization, demand has quickly outstripped local supply, providing fertile ground for tomato puree imports. FAO estimated that Africa imported almost 520,000 tonnes of tomato purée in 2021, i.e. 15% of the global volume (3.4 million tonnes), for US$500 million. West Africa led this segment with US$224 million, followed by North Africa (US$165 million).


Source: FAO

Libya, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa make up the top 5 African buyers of tomato puree in the global market, with imports ranging between US$25 million and US$90 million. Tomatoes are also a major item in intra-African trade.
For instance, in West Africa, increasing tomato consumption creates substantial trading opportunities between key producing countries and those with deficits. Burkina Faso, in particular, is a major player in this market, annually exporting nearly 150,000 tonnes of tomatoes to various coastal countries, including Ghana and Benin, resulting in annual revenues of CFA50 billion (US$83.5 million).


Additional Data: 

 Source: TDM

Top 20 African tomato puree importers in 2021
 
Source: FAO
Additional data for the 2022/2023 campaign

 
 Source: TDM

Tomato processing industry

The tomato processing sector in Africa is still underdeveloped. While globally, around 25% of the average harvest of around 180 million tons is processed, this percentage drops to less than 15% in Africa. The situation results from insufficient supply to ensure a continuous flow to factories, or from the priority given to exports in several producing countries. Indeed, in many countries, tomatoes are mainly destined for the fresh market or for small-scale and family processing.
Data from the World Tomato Processing Council (WPTC) show that only five countries on the continent, namely Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, and Senegal, are the most dynamic when it comes to processing. Together, they processed 2.5 million tonnes in 2022.

 
Source: WPTC

Algeria, which leads the segment, generates two main by-products: double tomato paste (DCT), obtained through industrial processes that extract and concentrate tomato pulp to achieve natural soluble dry matter levels of 28-30%, and triple tomato paste (TCT), with a concentration surpassing 35%.
Since 2018, this North African country has been working on a strategy to decrease imports, making substantial progress through the expansion of industrial tomato production. Supporting measures such as the acquisition of specialized equipment, irrigation tools and the rapid payment of production premiums have accompanied the strategy.
According to the country’s agriculture department, the production of triple concentrate tomato has surged from 9,000 tonnes in 2013 to over 70,000 tonnes in 2021. That of double tomato concentrate has increased from 20,000 tonnes in 2018 to over 80,000 tonnes in 2021.

Tunisia boasts one of the oldest processing industries on the continent, dating back to the installation of the first factory in 1903. According to data from the Canned Food Industries Group (GICA), more than 80% of tomato production undergoes industrial processing. About twenty plants, primarily located in the Cap-Bon region, handle the processing, predominantly for the production of double concentrate tomato (DCT), a widely consumed product locally.
Tunisians, with an average annual consumption of 10 kg of DCT (equivalent to 65 kg of fresh tomatoes), rank as the world's leading consumers of DCT, totaling almost 100,000 tons annually. The export of DCT is a regular and stabilizing activity for this sector, mainly to North African countries like Libya.

In Egypt, despite having the largest supply on the African continent, the processing sector operates below its potential, with less than 10% of the harvest being processed. The high cost of plant investment is a major obstacle to industry development there.

In South Africa, only 10% of the harvest is processing, with 85% directed towards the tomato sauce market and 10% for frozen tomato products.
Finally, the continent's fifth-largest tomato processor, Senegal, is the first West African country to feature in the ranking of major processors. In this country, the industry is mainly located in the Senegal River valley, where industrial tomatoes are grown for processing from December to July.

Processing companies and recent projects

The African tomato-processing sector has witnessed a surge in private investments over the past decade, enhancing the sector's value-added capabilities. Several plants have been established or investment projects announced in various countries. Here are notable developments in a few nations:

Nigeria
Aliko Dangote's processing factory in Nigeria is the largest on the continent. Launched in March 2016 with a $20 million investment, the facility, located in Kadawa, Kano State, covers 17,000 hectares. It boasts a daily processing capacity of 1,200 tonnes of tomatoes and an annual capacity of 400,000 tonnes. It includes a Naira 2.8 billion (€7 million) greenhouse for nursery production, which can process 350 million tons of hybrid tomato plants per season, facilitating the planting of 12,000 hectares of tomatoes. Since September 2020, however, the plant has had to cope with a chronic shortage, which has prevented it from being fully operational.
Moreover, Tomato Jos, a local company in Nigeria, has established a US$5 million unit in Kaduna State. This infrastructure, featuring a farm and sourcing from 350 local growers across 25 hectares, provides employment for 50 full-time staff members.

Ghana
The Spanish agrifood company Gallina Blanca (GB) Foods initiated the launch of a new US$5 million production line for canned tomatoes in Tema in March 2023. This move is expected to enhance the production capacity of the company, known for its flagship tomato concentrate brands "Gino" and "Pomo." The expansion plans include the establishment of two industrial farms covering 5,000 hectares to serve as a steady source of raw materials for its processing plant.
In August 2021, the agribusiness group Weddi Africa inaugurated a tomato processing plant. Located in the Berekum West district of the Bono region, the US$16 million plant has an annual installed capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes. The company also established a 971-hectare plantation and a network of independent growers comprising 2,000 farmers in the Ahafo and Bono regions to supply raw materials to its plant. The latter integrates a cold room with a storage capacity of 500 tonnes of fresh tomatoes, a research laboratory, and a center for the sale of agricultural inputs at affordable prices for contract growers.

Senegal
Many operators are making things happen in the processing industry in Senegal. The largest among them is Société de Conserves Alimentaires au Sénégal (Socas)- a subsidiary of the Sentenac group, which works with about 12,000 independent local growers, sourcing tomatoes and supplying inputs on credit.  Following Socas, Agroline and Takamoul have established themselves in 2004 and 2009, respectively. Adding to the landscape, Kagome Senegal Sarl, a subsidiary of the Japanese tomato food manufacturer and distributor Kagome Co. Ltd, entered the local market in 2017.

Egypt
In 2020, Nouna Juices and Concentrates announced EGP26 million (US$840,000) to build a tomato concentrate production plant in Upper Egypt. Located on a 10,000 m² plot in the Qena industrial zone, the plant is designed to have a daily production capacity of 40 tons of tomato concentrate.
Moreover, Karry food Industry will start processing tomatoes in May 2024 in its new factory in Sadat City and aims to process 90,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes this year. It targets annual volumes of 400,000 to 500,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes once all investments are finalized in 2025.

Cameroon
Cameroon is the SSA country where investors have shown the most interest in processing. Several projects have been announced to improve the annual production approaching one million tons. For example, Delifood Agroindustries Sarl announced at the end of 2022 it will release US$6 million to build a plant in Douala with an annual production capacity of 5,400 tonnes of canned tomatoes. In the same year, a tomato processing plant was announced in Maroua, in the Far North region. The project is being carried out by the Cameroonian company Société de transformation des produits d'élevage et d'agriculture du Sahel (Sotreas).

Zambia
A US$5 million processing plant has been announced in 2021 by the Zambian government in Monze, Southern Province. The plant is set to cover an area of 4 hectares and will have a production capacity of 10,000 tonnes of concentrates per year.
It will rely for raw material supplies on fresh tomato collection points to be set up in all the country's provinces. According to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), this project will be carried out with the support of the private sector. Its output is expected to satisfy local demand for processed tomatoes, reducing the burden of tomato concentrate imports, which amount to around US$10 million a year.

Burkina Faso
The construction of a tomato processing plant in Bobo-Dioulasso, was launched last September. Valued at CFA5 billion (US$8.3 million), the project is financed by the Agency for the Promotion of Community Entrepreneurship (APEC). With work scheduled to last 6 months, plant will cover an area of 3 hectares, and have a production capacity of 5 tonnes of tomato concentrate per hour. Once operational, it should also contribute to the creation of 100 direct jobs and over 5,000 indirect jobs.

Sources: African Development Bank (AfDB), FAO & TDM.

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