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International affairs and multimedia production

The actors

> Coordinator : Professor, Associate researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie urbaine/IIAC/EHESS-Paris and at the School of Development Studies, University of KwaZu lu-Natal/Durban.
> Field researcher : Phd in Anthropology.
> Photographer : Joan Bardeletti.
> Journalist : winner of the Albert Londres Award.



An in-depth study to understand African middle class dietary habits, as well as underlying portrayals and logic, with an aim to adjust the marketing and communication strategies of a large food company on the African continent.

Afro food... for thought: Angola The Green(er) Side of the Line - Israel/Palestine

The context

The project is based on work that Collateral Creations has already carried out on African middle classes, and concentrates on understanding dietary habits in Sub-Saharan Africa. A unique approach combining sociology, photography and journalism. The most complete study ever produced of this group of 220 million individuals.

The first field of an in-depth study of African middle class dietary habits.

Exchanges between the photographer and experts (sociologists and anthropologists) revealed the central importance of the buying journey in understanding the portrayal and dietary habits of African middle classes.

PNGThe African Development Bank estimates that 19.8% of the South African population belongs to the middle class : how can we understand the dietary habits of this population that has been studied so little beforehand?

The double approach of analysis and photography has allowed a dynamic map of the buying journey to emerge (mobility in space), as well as paths of upward social mobility (mobility in time) within the households met.

The study concentrated on the towns of Johannesburg and Durban.

Socio-anthropological analysis

The analytical work aims to describe and analyse buying, consumer and cooking habits in the middle classes in Johannesburg and Durban.

It was agreed with the project’s sponsor to target households whose monthly income lies between 6,000 rands (614 euros) and 13,000 rands (1,330 euros). These households are ranked between 6 and 8 on the South African Marketing Standards LSM (Living Standards Measure) scale.

The aim was to greatly refine knowledge of dietary habits thanks to a certain proximity with the families and their urban way of life, in order to bring to light their portrayals.


  • Organising a dozen face-to-face interviews lasting roughly an hour with people from the target-household group encountered in middle class residential areas, or while shopping in pre-defined supermarkets (Pick’n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite).
  • Running focus groups of 4 to 6 people.
  • Behavioural observation at lunchtime in supermarkets of all sizes, as well as eating places and primary schools.
  • Analytical work on documentary sources such as literature portraying the middle classes in South Africa, commercial material from the various shops and advertising aimed at the middle classes. Work was also carried out on the press and we analysed in particular certain issues of South African women’s magazines recommended by our local contacts.

The contents of this report can be read on line.

The photography project

« I chose to carry out a photographic road trip, following the footsteps of some members of the middle class black population from Jo’burg.

From the townships of their childhood that they often go back to at weekends (or that they want to forget at all costs), towards the large, new suburban estates built for them and accessible thanks to easy credit ; and for the lucky ones, on towards wealthy districts that are still mainly white, « Relationships here are transactional, more than anything », as one of them said to me.

My common thread, my GPS, my compass on this trip is, of course, their diet : the places they shop, consume, family food shopping, junk food wolfed down in cars before going back to work, or sausages eaten at the end of a long night dancing. »

Journalist accounts

Alongside the analytical and visual creation work, a journalist wrote four articles about the key – and most representative – moments of middle class daily life relating to dietary habits. This was highlighted by the work of the expert and the visual artist.

They are published and available here :


  • A limited edition book has been published. "I’m not a cheese boy" contains a selection of auteur photographs as well as journalist accounts and a reflection on the artistic approach undertaken by the photographer. An excerpt can be read here :
  • An exhibition was held in our client’s headquarter. It combines art work, elements of research and corporate photographs of our client’s local distributors to promote its work. Watch the video of the making of :

Vernissage exposition "Afro Food...for thought" 25/10/2012 from Collateral Creations on Vimeo.

  • A TV report on France O, dedicated to our exhibition has been broadcasted :

Reportage France O - Exposition BEL from Collateral Creations on Vimeo.