Egypt attracted 10 projects in the food manufacturing sector in 2018 – predominantly expansions to existing facilities – which is significantly more than previous annual totals since 2003, according to fDi Markets, a greenfield investment monitor.

The capital expenditure associated with the 2018 investments was $1.44bn, more than that generated during the entire 2010-17 period. The highest individual total during that period was $245m, just over 15% of the 2018 figure. The number of jobs created was also significantly higher in 2018, with 5672 new positions associated with food manufacturing projects (compared to 1187 in 2017 and just 62 in 2016).

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The main foreign investor was Saudi Arabia, with three projects in 2018. This was followed by two investments from China, and one investment apiece by the US, the UK, the UAE, India and Poland. The US made the most food manufacturing related investments into Egypt in recent years, with seven during the 2010-18 period.

The sugar and confectionery sub sector received three investments, followed by two each for animal food and bakeries and tortillas. For example, Canal Sugar – a sugar producer and a subsidiary of the UAE-based Al Ghurair Group – announced plans for a $1bn sugar facility to be located in Minya, with an expected opening date in 2021.

The strength of Egypt’s performance in 2018 is clear compared with other major African countries. For example, Egypt’s total inwards investment figure for food manufacturing is double that of Côte d'Ivoire, and the same as Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya combined. Additionally, 2018 was the first year since 2014 that Egypt has led the regional field.

While data suggests other nations on the continent could recover and overtake Egypt by the end of 2019, the north African country was the region’s bread basket in 2018.