Africa’s Big Seven Exhibition

The annual Africa's Big Seven Exhibition (AB7) is upon us again (20 - 22 July 2008) and is set to attract even more interest from Africa and the rest of the world. AB7, which is organised by Exhibition Management Services (EMS), is an annual event focusing on seven co-located events; Pan Africa Retail Trade Exhibition, Retail Solutions Africa, FoodBiz Africa, Agri-Food, FoodTech Africa, Interbake Africa and Dairy/Deli.

It has become a continental clearing house where fresh and processed foods are displayed for export, speciality foods and beverages marketed to African importers, wholesalers and retailers and manufacturing processing and packaging technologies are traded internationally.

In 2007, the expo, which is held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg, drew more than 6 700 people from 40 countries – this figure stood at 31 in 2006, showing how AB7 is gaining momentum.

Another interesting aspect is the fact that more and more African countries are beginning to use AB7 as a networking platform. Already for 2008 confirmation of their presence as participants has come from Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritius, Cameroon and the DRC.

Recent research commissioned by EMS has highlighted the impact these seven sectors had within South Africa in 2007 and the important role they play within the economy, says managing director John Thomson.

For example, when looking at FoodTech Africa, the international food and beverage trade fair, sales of locally manufactured food and beverages was valued at R190.6 billion.

Other interesting facts in this sector include Gross income from horticultural products increased by 16.6% to R24.6 billion in 2006/07. The consumption expenditure on food was valued at R209.7 billion for the year ending June 2007 of which R37.2 billion was spent on fruit and vegetables. The gross income from animal products increased by 19.5% to R49 billion in 2006/07.

The FoodBiz Africa survey, which focuses on the food service and equipment sector, found that the food service industry is well-developed and is the fastest-growing sector of the food market. This is fuelled by increased household income and a growing middle class and tourism and is expected to be boosted considerably by the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

Other interesting facts include Sales within the consumer foodservice industry should reach R51 billion by 2009, from R23.3 billion in 2004. The total income generated by the food service industry in 2007 was R28.3 billion, where restaurants and coffee shops accounted for 49% of total income, followed by take away/fast food outlets at 27%, caterers at 17% and other catering services at 7%.

Another interesting survey was around the Agri-Food sector, the manufacturers and producers expo where the value of commercial agricultural production was R96 billion in 2007 and its contribution to the GDP was R49 billion.

The primary agricultural sector has grown by an average of approximately 11.8% per annum since 1970 while the total economic growth was 14.9% over the same period, resulting in a decline of share of GDP from 7.1% in 1970 to 2.3% in 2006. About 70% of agricultural output is used as intermediate products in this sector.

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