Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Comment
  • Published:

The ultra-processed food industry in Africa

The recent involvement of Nestlé in the Africa Food Prize reinforces the presence of the ultra-processed food industry in the continent and invites us to reflect on the implications this may have for Africa’s sustainable food systems agenda.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Monteiro, C. A. et al. Public Health Nutr. 22, 936–941 (2019).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Lauber, K., Rutter, H. & Gilmore, A. B. BMJ Glob. Health 6, e005216 (2021).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. Baker, P. et al. Obes. Rev. 21, e13126 (2020).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Parker, L. A., Zaragoza, G. A. & Hernández-Aguado, I. BMC Public Health 19, 1438 (2019).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. Mkindi, A. R. et al. False Promises: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, BIBA, Bread for the World, FIAN, 2020);

  6. Day, H., Canfield, M. & Wallaia, A. The Man Behind the Curtain: The Gates Foundation’s Influence on the UN Food Systems Summit (Community Alliance for Global Justice, 2020);

  7. Breast-Milk Substitutes and Complementary Foods Marketing Index 2021 Executive Summary (Access to Nutrition Initiative, 2021);

  8. Rico-Campã, A. et al. Br. Med. J. 365, l1949 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Anastasiou, K., Baker, P., Hadjikakou, M., Hendrie, G. A. & Lawrence, M. J. Clean. Prod. 368, 133155 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brand Audit Report 2018-2022 (Break Free From Plastic, 2022);

  11. Wood, B., McCoy, D., Baker, P., Williams, O. & Sacks, G. Crit. Public Health 33, 135–147 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Wood, B. et al. Global Health 17, 138 (2021).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Mintz, S. W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (Penguin, 1986).

  14. Fardet, A. & Rock, E. Sustainability 12, 6280 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Crane, A., LeBaron, G., Allain, J. & Behbahani, L. Regul. Gov. 13, 86–106 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Oxfam Annual Report (Oxfam, 2014);

  17. Clapp, J. & Scrinis, G. Globalizations 14, 578–595 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Mialon, M., Swinburn, B. & Sacks, G. Obes. Rev. 16, 519–530 (2015).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Baker, P. et al. Global. Health 17, 58 (2021).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Lake, L. et al. S. Afr. Med. J. 109, 902–906 (2019).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Conceptualization: P.K., R.W., M. Mafuyeka, M. Mialon, P.B. and K.H.; Original draft preparation: P.K. All authors reviewed, edited and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Petronell Kruger or Mikateko Mafuyeka.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

P.K., M. Mafuyeka and K.H. are supported by the SAMRC/Wits Centre for Health Economics and Decision Science – PRICELESS SA (Grant number 23108).

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Food thanks Molly Anderson, Johanna Jacobi and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kruger, P., Wynberg, R., Mafuyeka, M. et al. The ultra-processed food industry in Africa. Nat Food 4, 534–536 (2023).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing