The agrifood processing sector is increasingly essential to connect food system actors and transform the crops produced by farmers into the foods demanded by consumers. A healthy and competitive processing sector will generate employment opportunities along the value chain, unlock smallholders’ access to growing and lucrative urban markets, and allow Africa to meet more of its own food demand from local production, reducing reliance on imports.
The processing sector is also central to the challenge of ensuring healthy diets and good nutrition in Africa. Greater consumption of processed foods high in fat, salt and sugar will exacerbate the rising prevalence of overweight, obesity, and non-communicable diseases in the continent. However, the development of processing also has the potential to increase the availability of healthy foods, including orphan crops and traditional staples, by offering them in convenient forms that are more accessible for urban households. Further evidence is needed on strategies to mitigate the risks and seize the potential of the processing sector to contribute to good nutrition.
The status and development of the agrifood processing sector remains an understudied area despite its importance. The 2022 Annual Trends and Outlook Report (ATOR) aims to contribute to filling the knowledge gap by examining policies to enhance the contribution of the agrifood processing sector to successful food systems transformation in Africa.
The ATOR uses available cross-country data as well as case studies from value chains throughout the continent to provide an overview of recent growth in the processing sector and the performance, structure, and major constraints of key processing subsectors.