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Food Services in 2024: Africa's top business opportunities in Restaurants, Catering, and more

With people spending less time in the kitchen, food services is a fast-growing $2.5 trillion global business that is projected to exceed $4 trillion by 2030. This guide explores Africa's top opportunities in the service of ready-to-eat food.

Growing demand for ready-to-eat food in Africa has spurred tremendous growth in both small "street food" vendors and large multinational franchises. Photo by No Revisions.

Good, tasty, and well-prepared food is important for human function and health.

Unfortunately, preparing a good meal takes skill, time, labour, and inconvenience if you plan to make it yourself. An average meal can take between a few minutes and several hours to prepare.

As a result, cooking is often an activity that a growing number of people and households in Africa, particularly in urban areas, can no longer afford.

In just fifty years, studies show that time spent in the kitchen has dropped considerably. Women and households now spend less than half the time on cooking activities as they did in 1965.

While this trend emerged in Europe, America, and other developed countries, it is fast taking root in developing regions, including Africa.

This is why millions of people across the continent are willing to pay for “ready-to-eat” food, and hundreds of local businesses and international chains are flocking to meet the huge demand in Africa's fast-growing food service market.

The food service industry is a diverse sector that provides ready-to-eat food (and beverages) through various formats and offerings that include fine and casual dining restaurants, quick service (fast food) restaurants, cafés, buffets, takeout (takeaway), catering, food trucks, mobile restaurants, private catering, home delivery, etc.

The global demand for food services, which reached $2.5 trillion in 2021, is projected to double in size within this decade. At a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.9%, global demand for food services could exceed $4.4 trillion by 2030.

With the world’s population set to reach 10 billion people by 2050, the demand for ready-to-eat food is expected to spur tremendous growth in small, mid-sized, and large multinational businesses that target individuals and households who just want a satisfying meal without the time, effort, and hassle of cooking food at home.

Fortunately, for entrepreneurs and investors, Africa is a particularly attractive growth market for the international food service industry.

Due to several favorable economic and social factors, international brands such as America’s McDonald’s Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Burger King, Subway, and Domino Pizza chains, as well as Japan’s Toridoll and select European players are quickly expanding their footprint across the continent.

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