German company WILD, which focuses particularly on beverage flavours, sees Africa as having huge potential in beverage developments. Francisco Climent, MD of Wild (Middle East and Africa), presented A journey to Africa – African beverage trends at the Food Ingredients Africa 2008 show earlier this year.
Climent said that Africa has one billion people in 54 countries and is characterised by poverty and unequal distribution of wealth.
Despite this, bottled water, for instance, has been growing fast – prompted by the decline in the quality of water.
The big trends
Internationally, Climent said that there are three mega-trends which have been identified in the beverage industry. Africa is following these three trends, although most countries are still in an early phase of adoption, he said:
1. Refreshment. This has always been the basic function of beverages.
2. Increase in functionality. Today many beverage products are addressing health issues.
3. Naturalness. Especially in South Africa, products with high juice contents and “clean labels” are appearing.
Particularly popular beverage categories in Africa were the following, he said:
- Energy drinks. In many countries, especially Nigeria, there is hype surrounding Red Bull. However, Power Horse may prove to be more popular with women. In Nigeria, energy drinks often have an aphrodisiac connotation. There are opportunities for local companies to launch trendy energy drinks at an affordable price to target a broader consumption group.
- Malt drinks. These became popular in the Middle East and have now spread to the Maghreb region and are being introduced throughout Africa – particularly as Africa has huge Muslim populations. They offer a beer-like beverage without the alcohol. Flavoured malt drinks are also appreciated. For instance, Fayrouz is legendary in Egypt and has now spread to Morocco and Nigeria, and is being exported to many other African countries.
Leading beverage categories
On the leading categories, he commented:
- Carbonated drinks. They are still the most important category in Africa and continue to grow (in contrast, this category is under pressure in the EU and the US as people are moving to more healthy concepts). They have the advantage that they are easy to manufacture and have microbiological stability.
They make an excellent refreshment for people in hot areas in Africa. For instance, in Egypt over 63% of beverages consumed are carbonates (compared with 30% in Germany). Carbonates are also very important in South Africa.
- Water. In many countries, the initial growth in this category was due to doubts about the quality of public water. Having a low price, bottled water can be afforded by many people in Africa. In Nigeria, bottled water now accounts for over 50% of the beverage market, and in Egypt, bottled water is also the highest-growth category. Some flavoured and near-water products have already been launched in Africa and “will create huge sales in the future … They offer potential for differentiation on the commodity product.” Flavoured waters in plastic sachets are most popular as they are cost-effective.
- Squash and cider products. In South Africa, there is a high percentage of these products (by contrast, this category is irrelevant in Germany, for instance). South African consumers of squashes and syrups are mainly from lower income groups.
- Juices and nectars. In South Africa, consumption of these categories is higher than in any other country in Africa, and is comparable to Germany.
- Mixed-fruit and multi-vitamin products. These have become popular in East Africa. Pina Colada, an exotic flavour, is growing in popularity there, showing that consumers are keen to taste new flavour variations and are looking for innovation.
Doing business in Africa
Climent says Wild is currently active, and has customers in most African countries. He stresses that there are a number of requirements to be successful in Africa.
“The specific needs of our customers in the different markets have to be understood, and the right products developed to provide value. Wild is not only offering great-tasting products at competitive prices, but supporting customers through tailor-made product development, technical services as well as through marketing and legal requirements.
“African markets are very price-sensitive, but they are also becoming increasingly quality-oriented. We are aware of this and have been successful in developing high quality products at competitive prices.
“Wild has for instance developed Sweet-Up, an artificial sweetener which can be used alone or in a mixture with sugar. We have also developed Wild plant oil emulsion as an affordable product.
“We have had success with special ingredients like the Resolver, masking unpleasant off-notes from preservatives and artificial sweeteners. We also see potential for functional foods as a niche concept in selected markets.”
In general, beverage products in Africa tend to be less complex than for instance in Europe, he said. Therefore, the compound concept is so much appreciated in Africa.
“Compounds mean easy handling, low risk and, in the end, a great-tasting final product of constant quality. Wild successfully sells compounds, flavour packs and emulsions.
“And when it comes to new product developments, we see the emergence of more complex concepts, such as functional drinks. It is just starting in a few countries with a few customers, but we see the first steps.”
- Wild is a leading supplier of natural flavourants to the food and beverage industry. Based in Heidelberg, Germany, it also has 70 sales offices throughout the world. WILD also owns Capri-Sun, the world-famous childrens’ drink.
Rudolf Wild: Tel +962-21-799-9285; Anika.Rieger@wild.de