Pasta, Biscuit and Bakery Products in Africa

19 November 201811 min reading

“It is saddening to see the famine problem in African continent, which has rich and fertile lands. Having around 50 percent of uncropped lands in the world, Africa imports more than half of the food it consumes. Among all foods, cereals top the list of imported products. Wheat, rice and maize occupy the top three spots. Being rich in energy, these grains constitute 30 percent of foods consumed. African countries spend more than USD 10 billion to buy these grains.”

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Africa is the second largest continent in terms of area and population in the world. Africa covers six percent of the world’s area with its 30.8 million square meters while it covers more than twenty-four percent of the world’s land. Also, with one billion three hundred million people, the continent has fifteen percent of the world’s population. The high fertility rate in African countries causes an increase in the world population although Asia and Europe are the biggest actors in the increase of the global population year-by-year. African countries’ population is around 1.3 billion in 2018. No doubt, the population growth puts a strain on food security. Feeding this population and supplying the food need in maximum rest on the government’s shoulder. In order to sustain this responsibility better, the government is expected to find a balance between the population growth and food production (supply). Underproduction or unproductive production conditions cause the food inadequacy and the nutrition problem on the increasing population.

In Africa, there are twenty-seven countries that do not have enough food to feed their population, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Also, there are seven countries in Asia, facing the same situation. This fact largely depends on conflicts, drought, flood, and similar problems. 27 African countries are Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leon, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, the Central Republic of Africa, Somalia, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Fighting against famine, these countries receive mostly pasta, flour, and rice among others. In the contribution to this fight, pasta manufacturers around the world donated two million pasta plates to aid organizations that fight against famine on the day of the World Pasta Day, the day the International Pasta Organization organized “the Power of Pasta” campaign on October, 25th. African countries have the lion share of this aid; however, in a bid to fix this famine in African countries, there should be a balance between intensive population growth and food supply.

The African continent has rich and fertile lands. It is saddened to see the famine problem in the continent where there are rich lands. Having fifty percent of wasteland in the world, Africa imports more than fifty percent of the food. Among all foods, cereal tops the list of imported products. Wheat, rice, and maize occupy the top three spots. Being rich in energy, these grains constitute thirty percent of foods consumed. African countries spend more than USD 10 billion to buy these grains.

Wheat is widely consumed in Africa. On daily basis, thousands of tons of wheat are used by bakeries and food establishments to make bread, noddle, biscuit, and other pastries in the continent. That’s why African countries spend more than USD 6 billion on the wheat import. Some claims that African countries import eighty-five percent of the consumed wheat. Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola are the biggest importer of the continent. Nigeria, for example, is the third biggest wheat customer of the United States.

The demand for bread and other widely consumed wheat products increase every day in Africa whose population grows continuously. This reality also increases the continent’s demand for wheat and its dependence on foreign countries every year. Along with wheat, the African continent is an important customer for rice. Africa imports half of the rice it consumed. Besides, pasta has high importance for African countries because of its long shelf life, reasonable price, and nutritious character. Being among the top pasta exporters in the world, Turkish companies have many customers in Africa.

As African countries import much of its cereal needs, the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank said that the continent’s future depends on agricultural production. In order to feed this increasing population, agricultural production must be modernized and more productive.

In terms of this article’s focus, the North African countries consume cereal sourced food products, especially pasta products. In the middle parts of Africa, it is not possible to talk about any nutrition culture as a result of drought, internal conflicts, and wrong agricultural policies. Nevertheless, pasta and biscuits have an important place to mitigate the famine problem in many parts of this area. In the north, fishes, meat products, and spice varieties have a prominent place in the nutrition culture since these countries have the Mediterranean Sea. Cereal sourced food products especially pasta products are widely consumed in these countries.

In South African countries largely affected by the European cuisine, sorghum, maize, wheat, especially corn sourced foods are in the forefront. Bread has an important place in South African countries just like in other countries. Particularly whole wheat and cornbread are widely consumed. Usually, they are served with main dishes. The pasta consumption is widespread because of the influence of Italians that settled in the region. In the consumption of dessert, in South Africa where the fruits are naturally grown, various donuts and desserts are the first choices.

In South Africa, the need for nutrition products such as bread, pasta, and biscuits is increasing day by day, the country where the meat consumption falls behind the cereal and pulse compared to Europe, America, and various Asian countries. Similarly, South African countries are fond of cakes and pastries prepared with chocolate, fruit, and regional flavors since these countries are affected by the coffee and dessert culture of European settlers. Now, we like to present some key African countries.

NIGERIA: THE HEART OF AFRICA Nigeria is known as the giant of Africa in terms of its economy and population. With a population of about 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh largest country in the world. Nigeria, which is named “the heart of Africa” by its people, was under British rule until it gained its independence in 1960. In addition to being the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria stands out with its rich natural resources and agricultural areas. The geographical structure and climate of Nigeria offer extensive opportunities for agriculture. Seventy-eight percent of the country with an area of more than 910 thousand square kilometers is agricultural land, but the country’s arable land is around thirty-seven percent. According to statistics, the amount of land that can be irrigated is three thousand square kilometers. The climate of Nigeria, which is located in the north of the equator line, differs by region. This allows diversity in agriculture. The central parts of the country have tropical while the south is under the influence of the Equatorial climate. The drought is seen mostly in the north part.

Nigeria is one of the two largest economies of the African continent with South Africa, but the country has problems because its population is around two hundred million people and its economy largely depends on oil revenues and cannot diversify its revenue. In recent years, the economy is shrunk by 1.5 percent because of decreasing oil prices. The GDP per capita of Nigeria, which has a gross domestic product of about USD 480 billion, declined from USD 6,000 in 2015 to USD 5,900 in 2016. Oil production accounts for more than one-third of the country’s gross domestic product and ninety percent of its exports.

Nigeria, which hosts many different ethnic groups, is a very rich country in terms of food and beverage culture. The Nigerian cuisine is a world-renowned kitchen thanks to migrants from Nigeria to America and Europe. Despite small differences, Nigerian cuisine resembles the African tastes in general. Nigerian cuisine mostly has rice, peanuts, vegetables, and fruits while its people usually also consume Nigerian-specific soup, watery food sauces, couscous, kebab, grill, and chicken. Nigeria produces sweet potato just like warm countries like China, Indonesia, India, Uganda, and America. Potatoes are used in many dishes, especially for dessert.

Generally speaking, Nigeria depends on agriculture. Because of its climate, many spices and herbs among others decorate the country’s cuisine. The most prominent feature of the country’s cuisine is the existence of plenty of spices and condiment in dishes. These herbs and spices are generally used in Nigerian dishes. The country’s cuisine is popular with spicy soup, stews, vegetables and fruit fries, bread and pastries, meats, and desserts. Nigerians consume a special potato, which they called Yarm, instead of bread. The most popular dishes of Nigeria are oatmeal, pasta, steak with black pepper sauce, pancakes, and hot dog rice.

BREAD, PASTA AND BISCUIT IN EGYPT Egypt is divided into three important regions as geographical location. The first one is the Mediterranean coast that is a coastline of one thousand kilometers in the north and the Red Sea coastline of one thousand kilometers in the east. The second region is the Nile Delta. Although this area is small, its population density is highest in the country. The third area is the desert area surrounding both sides of Nile River and in the middle part of the Sinai Peninsula. This geographical location determines the food habits just like society’s socio-economic position. Bread is the king of the country’s cuisine. Egypt is the first country in the consumption of bread, and one person consumes an average of 400 grams of bread per day in the country. Bread has been cooked in many different forms for thousands of years. Now, it has been cooked in a way to have a pocket so that foods can be put into it.

Bread accounts for more than two-thirds of food consumption in North and West Africa and Egypt. In Egypt, where pasta consumption per person is 1.2 kilograms, the pasta market is not attractive for exporting countries. This is because the country is self-sufficient.

Egyptians are fond of desserts and consume desserts like baklava and kadayif daily. One of the most important of these desserts is “Ommu Ali” (Mother of Ali) made from nuts, milk, and phyllo dough. Biscuit market of the country has been developing. In 2013, retail sales of biscuit sector increased by eight percent in volume and eleven percent in value, reaching 1 billion 31 million Egyptian pound. In the sector, the highest increase in terms of volume and value is the chocolate covered and sweet biscuits.

BREAD, PASTA AND BISCUIT IN TUNISIA Tunisian cuisine is a typical cuisine that, like almost all countries in the northwest African countries, has its own characteristics. Tunisians drink coffee with milk at breakfast and eat bread with jam and butter. This is a habit that has remained with them from the French. Tunisians that are successful in forming their own bread varieties, like other Maghreb countries, prefer the flatbread with whole grain and common flour that can be roasted in a pan. Occasionally, this bread made from yeast dough is also preferred as fluffy.

Even the preparation of couscous, which is the common dish of the Maghreb countries, is unique in Tunisia. Tunisian Cuisine is based on lamb, mutton, fish, seafood, and vegetables. Because of the influence of Italians, pasta dishes have an important place in Tunisian cuisine. Tunisians consume more during lunch compared to dinner and consume couscous, tajin or pasta varieties during lunch. The most famous dish of Tunisian cuisine is couscous. Couscous is usually consumed with Merguez, a kind of spicy sausage prepared on a grill or pan. As known, Italy has the first place in the pasta consumption with twenty-six kilograms per person. Venezuela with 13.2 kilograms and Tunisia with 11.9 kilograms follow Italy. According to 2013 statistics, Tunisia produces 183 thousand tons annually and gave the priority to the processing of agricultural products in the industrialization policy. The aim of the country, who imported every kind of foodstuff until recently, is to become self-sufficient and later is to export basic foodstuff like pasta and couscous. In this area, the country’s growth continues.

Typical food of the country is “Brique.” It is similar to deep-fried water thin dough with raw minced meat filling. For this food, phyllo dough is spread thin and cut in the size of a dessert plate and stuffed with mince. Meanwhile, vegetable oil is heated up. After cracking an egg, the yolk and white part is stuffed into a phyllo and put into the vegetable oil. Brique is eaten through holding both sides of the foodstuff. The essential part of this food is that the white part of the egg should remain cooked while the yolk must be fluid. Olive, almond, and date are also important for Tunisians. They prepare a different kind of desserts and cookies with almond and date.

10 MOST POPULOUS COUNTRIES IN AFRICA Nigeria: 195,875,237 Ethiopia: 107,534,882 Egypt: 99,375,741 Democratic Republic of the Congo: 84,004,989 Tanzania: 59,091,392 South Africa: 57,398,421 Kenya: 50,950,879 Uganda: 44,270,563 Algeria: 42,008,054 Sudan: 41,511,526

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