Cameroon - Consumer Spending On The Up

11 May 2011 • by Natalie Aster

Cameroon's economy has performed steadily over the past decade with real GDP growth averaging 3.7% between 2000 and 2009, which, although not quite as dynamic as some of Africa's fastest growing economies, has provided steady momentum to the food and drink industry. Branded beer in particular looks reasonably well developed compared to a lot of Sub-Saharan African economies and indicators such as per capita beer consumption, at about 26 litres in Cameroon, support this view. Across much of Sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is between 5 and 15 litres.

Lots of Room for More Growth

Cameroon Beer Sales (mn litres) - Historical - 2002-2009

Source: World Bank, Trade Press, BMI

Unsurprisingly, French companies have been particularly active in Cameroon on the consumer side. This is particularly evident in soft drinks, beer and organised retail. The Castel Group's Les Brasseries Du Cameroun unit dominates beer and soft drinks in Cameroon. Castel Group is a major franchise bottler of the The Coca-Cola Company in Francophone Africa. More than reflecting the outright popularity of beer, the strength of per capita branded beer consumption in Cameroon reflects the fact that informal home-brewed beer is probably far less prominent in Cameroon that it is across much of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Coming From a Low Base

Cameroon per Capita Food Consumption - Historical - 2002-2009

Source: African Development Bank, IMF, World Bank, BMI

Things are definitely different in retail though where we estimate that traditional 'mom and pop' independent stores and wet markets make up about 98% of the food retail industry, which is much more in line with the rest of the region. Investment into organised retail has been slow in coming; South African retailers, which are increasingly active across the continent, have largely steered clear of Francophone countries.

With a per capita GDP of only US$4,000, Cameroon remains some way off growing into an upper-middle-income economy. Like all countries, there is a minority of the population that spends freely and stocks up on pricy imported produce. Also like most countries, particularly in Africa, the majority of people in Cameroon spend most of their incomes on subsistence.

Growth Going Forward

Taking a longer-term view, a steadily growing population and strong scope for income growth will drive interest in Cameroon from French companies in particular. Domestically, as the economy continues to develop (including the financial services industry) more Cameroonian companies should come to the fore and those already invested should be able to take on more risk as the consumer sector throws up more opportunities.

BMI’s food and drink reports feature a market assessment and independent 5-year forecasts for food and drink expenditure by product category, consumption, sales, imports and exports, and for the mass grocery retail sector. The reports also include analyses of latest regulatory developments, the background macroeconomic outlook, and competitive landscapes comparing multinational and national companies by leading products and services, sales, investments, partners and expansion strategies.

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