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State of the South African coffee market

From the September 2016 issue.

While a coffee culture appears to be emerging in the African nation, it is unclear whether the country’s economy will be strong enough to sustain its growth.

Starbucks in South Africa

One of the more bizarre and cheerful sights along an otherwise dreary section of the commuter line between South Africa’s main commercial capital, Johannesburg and Durban, the east coast city, are two giant coffee cans the size of tower blocks.

They loom colourfully over the railway line as it cuts through Wembezi township on the outskirts of Estcourt and announce the presence of Nestlé. The two silos, wrapped in the familiar branding of the company’s two most popular instant coffee brands, Nescafe and Ricoffy, are one of the ways that have been used to get South Africans to think of coffee as part of their daily routine.

The Estcourt plant, one of Nestlé’s oldest facilities in the country, was added to in April this year by the US$150 million expansion of its instant coffee factory, the largest investment the Swiss transnational food and drink company has made in Africa.

Intercity commuters, industrial investments, global brands, and a growing number of South African consumers: this is the vision of South Africa that prompted its inclusion in 2010 among the BRICS, the club of five major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and made it the place where all major industries and multinationals look for signs of life in the broader African economy.

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