Global asset manager Silk Invest (www.silkinvest.com) is launching the Africa Food Fund, a new Euro 150 million ($209 million) private equity fund focusing on the African food sector. The fund is domiciled in Luxembourg and will concentrate on value-adding, including food and beverages processing and distribution.
Silk Invest CEO Zin Bekkali says “(The) focus of the fund is to invest in companies across the food value chain, and we especially like the companies who are servicing the local African consumers. We firmly believe the food industry is one of the most attractive sectors in Africa, especially in the more populous countries where high demographic growth means growing demand for a more efficient and integrated food chain.
The firm says that millions of Africans are moving up the consumer value chain and this will fuel huge internal demand, as infrastructure improves and quality standards increase. Bekkali says: “We believe that consumption will continue to grow at a robust pace, underpinned by the high economic development across the continent, and that well managed companies operating in this space will benefit from exceptional returns,” he added.
Alexandre Cantacuzene, the director of the African Food Fund, has worked in the food industry for over 40 years, including managing Nestlé’s operations in some African and Middle Eastern countries. Bekkali told Reuters agency in April: “”Examples of target companies that we are analysing are (a) fast food chain which wants to accelerate the number of outlets that it has; a cocoa processing company which wants to sell more of its own branded products; a flavoured fizzy drinks producer which is building capacity in mineral water; and a biscuit maker which is importing currently 50% of the products it sells, but wants to replace it by its own goods.”
“Moving to packaged sugar, milk or flour is a big driver of growth. In most African countries, food is still pre-dominantly sold through non-branded items. (In) the last years we are seeing a dramatic change and African food companies are servicing the local need without increasing the cost of the product. Consumers are able to buy a higher quality branded food item for the same price.”
Much of the investment into African agriculture is still focused on food production and raw commodities. Several countries have seen Eastern and Middle Eastern investment agencies taking land and spending money to grow crops in Africa for shipment to their domestic markets to alleviate food insecurity in the Arab world.
Waseem Khan, director of private equity, said: “Silk Invest’s local presence in the key African countries in which we invest provides us with the key advantage.” Silk Invest is based in London. Its name comes from the “Silk Route”, the historic trade paths linking Europe and Asia.