Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


2. Facts and figures on dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa


Trends in dairy imports, production and consumption
Cross-country comparison of parameters related to dairy imports


In this chapter, the basic data available on dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa are compared with those on domestic production in individual countries in order to establish the magnitude of dairy imports in relation to total dairy consumption. This is followed by a discussion of the importance of dairy imports in individual sub-Saharan African countries and regions and by a cross-country comparison of some economic and social parameters related to dairy imports.

A word of caution is, however, necessary: the results presented here must be interpreted in light of the available data which may vary in quality among countries and are subject to substantial error at best. Yet, despite the reservation about the reliability of population and milk production data for sub-Saharan Africa, it can be safely concluded that, within a decade, a large number of sub-Saharan African countries have become increasingly dependent on the importation of dairy products.

Trends in dairy imports, production and consumption


Commercial dairy imports
Dairy food aid
Regional patterns
Consumption


Our analysis covers 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including 16 in West Africa, 10 each in central and southern Africa and 9 in East Africa (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Sub-Saharan African countries included in the analysis.

The term 'dairy products' includes fresh milk, skim and whole milk powder, sweetened and unsweetened evaporated and condensed milk, cheese and curd, butter, butter oil, and any other product that results from processing milk. Whole liquid milk equivalents (LME) of various dairy products are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Conversion factors expressed as kilograms of whole liquid milk equivalent (LME) per kilogram of milk product.

Product(1.0 kg)

Conversion factor (kg LME)

Fresh milk

1.0

Skim and whole milk powder

7.6

Condensed and evaporated milk

2.0

Cheese and curd

4.4

Butter

6.6

Butter oil

8.0

Other products

2.0

Source: FAO (1978a).

Dairy food aid products are those which are given free of charge, and so are outside the normal commercial networks. Although the recipient country sometimes has to contribute towards the shipping and/or distribution costs, food aid is usually provided as part of bilateral agreements or in emergency shipments. The two main dairy food aid products are skim milk powder and butter oil for milk reconstitution.

Commercial dairy imports

Commercial imports of dairy products1 into sub-Saharan Africa have increased steadily since 1960. According to FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years), their nominal value increased from US$ 43 million in 1960 to US$ 113 million in 1970, and then to US$ 680 million in 1980. Using the index of consumer prices for industrialised countries (1980 = 100), the corresponding deflated values of imports were US$ 136 million in 1960, US$ 258 million in 1970 and US$ 643 million in 1981.

1 Unless otherwise specified, henceforth it is assumed that gross imports are equivalent to net imports, i.e. exports are negligible.

Figure 2 shows the total value of dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa during 1972-82 in both nominal and deflated terms (the deflator has been re-indexed to 1972 = 100). In nominal terms, the value of commercial imports peaked in 1981 at just over US$ 700 million, after which both the nominal value and volume began to decline (Figures 2 and 3). The deflated value of commercial and food aid imports combined also peaked in 1981.

In 1980, sub-Saharan Africa spent approximately 5% of its total revenues from agricultural, forestry and fishery exports on imports of dairy products. Whereas in 1960 dried and condensed milk made up two thirds of all dairy imports by value, from 1970 onwards these two products accounted for almost 90% on average. Thus dairy imports have consisted mainly of basic or staple rather than luxury products, such as yoghurt, cheese and fresh milk.

The situation by volume was very similar (Figure 3), as only 20% of the total increase in the nominal value of dairy imports between 1970 and 1980 can be attributed to changes in the average values per unit of LME, whereas about 43% was due to increases in volume and the remaining 37% can be explained by the combined effect of increased unit values and volume2.

2 The formula to calculate the price effect is

where:

q = volume
p = unit value, and

Subscripts 0 and 1 = beginning and end of the period.
The numerator for the volume and price/volume effects changes to p0 (q1-q0) and (p1-p0) × (q1-q0) respectively. All three effects together add up to 100%.

Figure 2. Nominal and deflated1 values of dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa, 1972 -82.

1 Values deflated to 1972 = 100.
Sources: FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years) and IMF (1983).

In deflated terms, -7.6% of the increase in total value between 1970 and 1980 is attributed to a price change while the portion attributable to volume change was 193.6% and the remaining -86% was due to the interacting effect of decreased real unit values and increased volume. The largest quantity of dairy products (2.25 million t LME) was imported in 1981 (von Massow, 1984a, App. 3).

Dairy food aid

Detailed statistics on dairy food aid are available only for the period 1977 to 1982 (FAO, 1984a). During that period the volume of food aid (in LME) more than doubled (+103%), compared with a 35% increase for commercial dairy imports (Figure 3). In 1981, food aid to sub-Saharan African countries amounted to 88000 t of skim milk powder and 9000 t each of butter oil and other dairy products (FAO, 1984a), which is equivalent to almost 760000 t of liquid milk.

Figure 3. Volume of dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa, 1972-82.

Sources: Author's calculation based on FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years) and FAO (1984a).

The value of these donations can be calculated using the current prices of commercial imports. Butter oil, which is hardly traded commercially, is valued at the import price of butter plus 20%, and other dairy products are valued at the price of condensed milk3. On this basis, the value of total dairy food aid in 1981 amounted to almost US$ 140 million and that of commercial imports and food aid together to roughly US$ 850 million.

3 The 20% is the price difference between butter and butter oil in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) minimum prices (GATT, 1983). A weighted regional price average was taken for those commodities and countries where no price for commercial imports was available.

In volume terms (LME), the share of food aid in total dairy imports rose from 17% in 1977 to 25% in 1981 and was 23% in 1982. The quantities imported both commercially and as food aid have to be considered when analysing the effects of imports on domestic prices, production and consumption. Food aid can be given with special conditions attached to its use or as a direct contribution to domestic supplies. Thus the precise effects of each type of donation must be carefully analysed for each country.

Regional patterns

Figure 4 shows the volumes of commercial dairy imports by region. West Africa accounts for more than half of the total (about 55 to 60%), while the other three regions share the remaining 40% more or less equally, although East Africa increased its share from about 5 to 20% between 1972 and 1982.

Figure 4. Commercial dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa by region, 1972-82.

Source: Author's calculation based on FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years).

The pattern for dairy food aid is different: East Africa received almost 50% of all food aid deliveries to sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 5), while in West Africa the proportion fluctuated between 25 and 33% of the total.

Figure 5. Dairy food aid imports into sub-Saharan Africa by region, 1977-82.

Source: Author's calculation based on FAO (1984a).

More information can be obtained by comparing regional totals of commercial and food aid dairy imports per person. Table 2 shows that in southern Africa, the volume of commercial dairy imports per person was about stable from 1972 to 1982, but that of East Africa increased sharply from 0.62 kg per person in 1972 to 3.87 kg per person in 1982.

Compared with 1977, combined per capita dairy imports of commercial products and of food aid into East Africa more than doubled (+104%) in 1982. West Africa imported most dairy products at 8.77 kg per person. The largest absolute increase in dairy food aid occurred in southern Africa (from 0.82 to 2.36 kg LME per person), whereas West Africa with less than 1 kg LME per person in 1982 ranked lowest in food aid and also had the lowest increase since 1977.

Consumption

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, commercial dairy imports and dairy food aid together added roughly 8 kg LME to the total per capita consumption of dairy products in 1982 (Table 2). This represents almost 33% of the estimated share of imports in total dairy consumption. Total consumption is calculated as total domestic milk production plus total dairy imports. Since data on milk production in sub-Saharan Africa are not very reliable, changes in dairy imports: consumption ratios may be used instead, if interpreted cautiously. Table 3 gives ratios averaged over 1971-73 and 1981-83 respectively.

Table 2. Net per capita dairy imports into the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, 1972, 1977 and 1982.

Year

Type of imports

Net dairy imports (kg LME person-1)

West Africa

Central Africa

East Africa

Southern Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

1972

Commercial

4.12

2.71

0.62

5.25

3.00

Food aid

n.a.1

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

Total

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

1977

Commercial

7.59

3.18

1.70

5.91

4.91

Food aid

0.71

0.81

1.60

0.82

1.00

Total

8.30

3.99

3.30

6.73

5.91

1982

Commercial

7.78

4.29

3.87

5.52

5.78

Food aid

0.99

1.36

2.86

2.36

1.77

Total

8.77

5.65

6.73

7.88

7.55

1 n.a. = not available.
Source: Author's calculation based on FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years), FAO (1984a) and World Bank (1984).

Table 3. The proportions of commercial, food aid and total dairy imports in the consumption1 of dairy products in sub-Saharan Africa, 1971-73 and 1981-83.

Period

Type of imports

Dairy imports as percentage of consumption

West Africa

Central Africa

East Africa

Southern Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

1971/73

Commercial

26

33

1

23

11

Food aid

n.a.2

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

Total imports

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

1981/83

Commercial

41

39

7

25

21

Food aid

05

13

6

10

6

Total imports

46

52

13

35

27

1 consumption is calculated as total domestic milk production plus total dairy imports (in LME). All figures are averaged over the respective 3 years.
2 n.a. = not available.
Source: Author's calculation based on FAO Production Yearbooks (various years), FAO Trade Yearbooks (various years), FAO (1978a) and FAO (1984a).

West and central Africa, where dairy imports comprised about 50% of total consumption in 1982, are most dependent on imports. In East Africa, local milk producers provide most of the dairy products consumed. However, East Africa is more dependent on food aid; for example, in two thirds (6 out of 9) of its countries, food aid accounted for 40% or more of total dairy imports in 1982 (the regional average being 46%). In other regions, less than two fifths of the countries fall into this category, but there are five countries (Chad, Rwanda, Comoros, Tanzania and Lesotho) where food aid accounts for over 50% of total dairy imports4.

4 For more information at the country level see von Massow (1984a, App. 4).

All countries in sub-Saharan Africa import some dairy products on a commercial basis. When commercial and food aid imports are combined, the largest importers by rank are Nigeria, Somalia, Angola, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Five of the 45 sub-Saharan African countries account for over 50% of total commercial dairy imports into the region. Nigeria is by far the largest importer with 31% of the total volume (LME) in 1982, while Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia and Senegal together account for another 22%.

Food aid imports of dairy products are much more equally distributed, Somalia being the only country receiving almost 20% of total dairy food aid and therefore ranking second, after Nigeria, in total imports. The other major recipients of dairy food aid are Tanzania (9%), Ethiopia (7%) and Angola (6%). Five countries - Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Reunion and Swaziland - did not receive any dairy food aid in 1982.

Total dairy imports may again be related to total domestic consumption of milk and dairy products (von Massow, 1984a, App. 4). Imports account for 50% or more of the total domestic dairy consumption in 24 of 45 sub-Saharan African countries. Most of these are coastal countries in West and central Africa which, because of their geographical location, local conditions (tsetse infestation) and climate, have limited livestock potential.

But a calculation of total dairy imports per person shows a very different situation: 12 of the 24 countries import more than 20 kg LME per person and, with a few exceptions, all rank high in total dairy consumption per person. The unweighted average consumption is 33 kg LME over all countries. It is surprising that countries such as Somalia, Mauritania, Botswana and Burkina Faso, which have relatively high cattle population per person, are among the 12 countries which import most dairy products per person.

Cross-country comparison of parameters related to dairy imports

The mere dependency on imports does not by itself create a problem. There is a cause for concern, however, if the overall availability of food is low and imports form a crucial part of food supply, because importation may drain already limited foreign exchange resources from the external trade sector (von Massow, 1985b, p.1).

The situation in any particular country can be assessed by determining:

· the overall availability of food, which is measured by the calorie supply per person in relation to the theoretical calorie requirement (World Bank, 1984);

· the country's economic situation, which is measured as GNP per capita; and

· the economic importance of dairy products in the external trade balance; which is measured by the value of commercial dairy imports relative to total expenditure on all food and agricultural imports.

In Benin, Congo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zaire, total milk consumption per person is less than 20 kg, of which over 60% is imported5. These countries are highly dependent on dairy imports but, with the exception of Ghana and Sierra Leone, all meet at least 90% of the total calorie requirement of their population, which means that dairy imports do not play a crucial role in overall human nutrition. Despite lower nutritional levels, Ghana and Sierra Leone not only depend on dairy imports, but they also receive more than 30% of the imports in the form of food aid.

5 For a detailed analysis see von Massow (1984a, pp. 12-15 and Appendices 5-10).

The proportion of food aid in total dairy imports usually tends to decrease as the share of imports in total consumption increases, but not without exception. Benin, Central African Republic, Lesotho and Somalia have high proportions both of food aid in total dairy imports and of imports in total consumption.

Countries such as Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Nigeria are highly import-dependent yet have a relatively low consumption and high average income (GNP per capita exceeds US$ 400). Also, they import most dairy products commercially rather than as food aid.

At the other extreme are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, which have a GNP per capita of less than US$ 300 and receive more than 30% of all dairy imports as food aid. It is interesting to note that in all these countries except Somalia, more than 80% of the population lives in rural areas. So it would seem that the total dairy imports into these countries and the high proportion of food aid in them are not closely correlated with increasing urbanisation, but there is insufficient evidence available so far to be certain of this.

The economic importance of dairy imports in the external trade balance (which in most sub-Saharan African countries is negative) can be determined by comparing the value of commercial dairy imports with total expenditures on agricultural imports. It appears that many of those countries (except Mali) which in 1981 had GNP of less than US$ 350 per capita spent more than 10% of their agricultural import bill on dairy products. This is astonishing since dairy products are not usually considered as basic a staple as, for example, grain.

On the other hand, most of the poor countries imported dairy products relatively cheaply; the average value in 1982 was less than US$ 0.25 kg-1 LME compared with an average of US$ 0.31 kg-1 LME for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. It could be, therefore, that the poor countries could not resist importing dairy products because they were relatively cheap on the world markets.

To sum up, dairy imports into sub-Saharan Africa increased tremendously during the 1970s, but their distribution was uneven. West and central Africa now import about half of their consumption of dairy products, while East Africa imports less than 20%. Some individual countries are very dependent on dairy imports which come partly as food aid. Not a single sub-Saharan African country was able to maintain, let alone increase, per capita dairy consumption over the last 10 years without increasing its imports. The products imported were mainly basic foodstuffs, such as milk powder or condensed milk, not luxury goods.


Previous Page Top of Page Next Page