The Rise of a Middle Class in East and Southern Africa: Implications for Food System Transformation

July 15, 2015 - Author: Tschirley David, , Michael Dolislager, and

Tschirley David, Thomas Reardon, Michael Dolislager, and Jason Snyder. 2015. The Rise of a Middle Class in East and Southern Africa: Implications for Food System Transformation. Journal of International Development, J. Int. Dev. 27, 2015, 628–646


We show five points regarding the middle class in developing East and Southern Africa:
(1) 55 per cent of the region’s middle class —37 per cent of the ‘non-vulnerable’ middle class— is rural; 
(2) 61–83 per cent of the middle class’s food is purchased; 
(3) processed food occupies 70–80 per cent of the class’s food expenditure, with similar shares in urban and rural areas; 
(4) perishable products account for 44–55 per cent of the class’s expenditure. Policy attention to processing and to food products ‘beyond-grains’ thus needs to be ‘mainstreamed’; and 
(5) the import share of food expenditure does not rise with income in urban areas.

KEYWORDS: Africa; middle class; processed food; food imports; urbanisation

Tags: c4b, food imports, fsg peer reviewed publications, fsp peer reviewed publications, middle class, nutrition, processed food

Related Topic Areas

C4b, FSP Nutrition Dataset


David L. Tschirley

David L. Tschirley

Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

Jason Snyder

Jason Snyder

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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy

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