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Africa is the next big growth market for pet food manufacturers globally

by Louise Burgers. Africa is the biggest emerging market for the pet food industry globally, right now, with year-on-year growth being recorded by pet food manufacturers in South Africa who are exporting to the continent, as well as international brands.

by Louise Burgers. Africa is the biggest emerging market for the pet food industry globally, right now, with year-on-year growth being recorded by pet food manufacturers in South Africa who are exporting to the continent, as well as international brands. An aspirant middle class (the ‘African Lions’) is driving this trend as pet ownership increases across the African continent, including among South Africa’s emergent middle class.

In an exclusive interview with Retailing Africa, Montego Pet Nutrition managing director, Johan van Jaarsveld, said Africa was the continent to compete in and grow in, as international industry figures showed that in 2019, Africa pet food production grew the fastest worldwide of any other emerging market. South African-headquartered Montego is the largest privately-owned pet food producer in Africa and earlier this week announced it had secured an investment from Janic Capital, to aid its expansion plans into Africa.

“International expansion is part of our investment strategy, of which Africa will make up the most important part of that. We are looking ahead to 2050 and to where Africa’s population growth is predicted to go. We have grown 32% year-on-year for the last four years in Africa. Botswana, has shown 100% growth in the last two years. We are also doing well in Namibia and Mozambique.”

Van Jaarsveld added that most European and American pet brands were focused on Russia and China, which were the biggest emerging markets currently; but that production in Africa has grown faster to keep up with demand on the continent; leading to Africa becoming a bigger focus for European brands as well.

“We predict that Africa will become an important market for pet food as an increase in living standards among the middle class means higher pet ownership. As countries like Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria show growth, pet ownership rises,” said Van Jaarsveld.

Mordor Intelligence reports that South Africa is dominated by more than 200 brands of pet foods and that growth opportunities exist in other African markets such as the North African countries of Morocco and Egypt where pet ownership of dogs and cats are driving imports of foreign brands; and Namibia and Nigeria with their growing economies. Growing awareness on pet nutrition was driving sales for products associated with muscle and joint health; followed by eye care and tooth care, predicted Mordor.

The pet nutraceuticals market is defined by Mordor as dietary supplements, functional foods or medicinal food products that provide a source of a recognised essential nutrient, like calcium or vitamin A. They are intended to work as supplements and ensure the nutritional completeness of the pet diet.

Van Jaarsveld added; “We are seeing pet shops opening up across the continent. Ten years ago we were exporting small amounts of our pet food to Africa, mostly to security companies [for their guard dogs], but in the last decade we are seeing more pet shops opening, and we are also moving more product through the existing retail network. Categories are also expanding. We are seeing more demand for larger pack sizes… as well as tinned food or wet food is also doing well in Africa,” Van Jaarsveld said.

Montego currently exports 7% of its volume into Africa. “The investment [by Janic] will help us to focus on optimisation strategies, specifically in our logistics and production and from a growth point of view, it will help us focus on new technology, new development in products; and entrenching our export network into Africa… that would be setting up logistics infrastructure and marketing support; while it will also pave the way for strategic acquisitions, locally, with the eye on vertical integration.”

Van Jaarsveld pointed out that pet ownership in general, is also on the rise in South Africa’s informal market as the middle-income market grows, but that distribution networks into the townships still presented a challenge.

Editor’s sidebar: < A business opportunity identifed by Johan van Jaarsveld in this interview was for a distribution network in informal residential areas in South Africa, as distribution continued to present challenges; as well as a network of pet shops in townships.>

Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor of RetailingAfrica.com. She’s spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa  consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global game changer in the next decade.

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