Nuts are now a regular feature on supermarket shelves and in urban diets across Africa due to their high nutritional value and convenience. They are a rich source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthy snack option.
Approximately 20–25% of edible nuts produced annually are sold as ingredients to the food industry and used primarily in baking, confectionery, flavoured drinks, breakfast cereals, chocolate products, spreads, and dairy products.
However, a significant portion of nuts goes into direct consumption (as snacks) or is crushed to produce cooking oils.
According to Research & Markets, the global edible nuts market was valued at $295 billion in 2022 and is projected to exceed $450 billion by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7%.
Every year, more than 40 million tons of nuts are produced around the world. Of this annual output, up to 50% is exported to other countries, creating a huge international market for nuts. In 2021, for example, businesses and entrepreneurs earned up to €30 billion from exporting nuts.
The global demand for nuts has grown significantly over the last two decades, particularly in developed markets like Europe, North America, and China. There is also rising demand for nuts in Africa's sprawling urban areas.
A key factor behind the growing global demand for nuts is the increasing consumer interest in organic and healthier food options. Nuts, which are a popular food item in vegan and weight loss diets, are an attractive product to health-conscious consumers.
In addition to their nutrient-rich quality, epidemiologic studies suggest that nut consumption could provide several cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, particularly in protecting the human body against hypertension, cancer, and inflammation.
Africa is a significant producer of nuts and contributes up to 7% of the world's total supply. The leading nut-producing countries in Africa are Nigeria, Sudan, and Mali, which produce more than half of the continent's total nut output (as of 2019). Other significant nut-producing countries in Africa include Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Senegal.
This guide explores three major edible nuts that enjoy strong demand in Africa's local and export markets and present major business opportunities for businesses and investors on the continent.
We also showcase inspiring success stories of thriving nut businesses in Africa and explore interesting business ideas that exist across the value chain in the nuts industry.