BusinessDay

Nigerians cut down on protein as inflation bites

The hike in food prices has forced many Nigerians to take meat and other sources of protein off their menu as the cost of home-cooked meals has jumped in recent months amid shrinking disposable incomes.

The other sources of protein that are fast disappearing from many families’ diets include fish, chicken, turkey, egg, milk, beans and sausage.

Many people now cope with the rise in food inflation by either forgoing a particular food item for a cheaper one or skipping a meal a day so as to spend within their means.

“Many families skip meals or take lesser portions; they get the cheaper stuff irrespective of quality. They just have to break even and there’s nothing that can be done about it,” Glory Fadipe, head of research at FCMB told BusinessDay.

“Staples are now becoming once-in-a-blue-moon things. Chicken, fishes like Titus are now expensive. For the common man, staples have become expensive.”

Inflation rate in the country climbed to 15.92 percent in March from 15.70 percent in February while food inflation rose to 17.20 percent from 17.11 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“It’s crazy how Nigeria’s food inflation simply forces you to forgo some food items and move on with your life. I haven’t bought turkey since it cost N3,200 per kg. I stopped buying sardine when it became N380,” a Twitter user said.

According to NBS data, the average price of 1kg of beans (white, black eye, sold loose) jumped by 46.64 percent from N345.03 in March 2021 to N505.94 in March 2022. It increased by 1.69 percent from N497.54 in February 2022.

The average price of Agric eggs (medium size price of one) increased by 27.14 percent from N48.43 in March 2021 to N61.58 in March 2022. It also grew by 2.93 percent on a month-on-month basis.

The average price of 1kg beef (boneless) rose to N1,955.90 in March this year from N1,456.03 a year earlier. The average price of 1kg frozen chicken increased to N2,381.19 from N1,926.86 in March 2021, while that of 1kg Titus fish (frozen) rose to N 1,526.95 from N1,069.28.

Not a few Nigerians have voiced concerns on social media and elsewhere about the impact of the rising costs of foodstuff and other essential commodities in the country.

“Inflation has forced me to stop buying noodles, yam, sardines, spaghetti, eggs, etc. The list is endless. Sometimes I am even scared of going to the market,” said another Twitter user with the handle @fynest_fine.

Quoting the NBS report on selected food prices, FBNQuest Capital, an investment firm, noted that all 43 food items surveyed increased by about 28.8 percent year on year on average. On a month on month basis, the average price increase was 2.5 percent.

One of the causes of the increase in food prices as indicated in a report by FBNQuest is the increase in insecurity in northern Nigerian states where many agricultural goods come from.

Read also: Nigerians forgo staple food items as inflation bites

The report revealed that another major factor is the pass-through effect from imported food prices due to the Russian-Ukraine war which is being felt globally by way of increasing fuel and soft commodity prices.

“This is likely to be felt more in the coming months if the war persists. Imported food inflation increased by about 8bps to 17.56 percent,” it said.

A fast-food franchise in the country, Chicken Republic, recently added a new item, called ‘Egg star’ to its menu. It contains rice or spaghetti, with stew and boiled egg, and is sold for N500.

In 2020, what it called ‘refuel spaghetti with a spicy peppered sauce and delicious chicken’ was N500, the same price as the ‘Egg star’ introduced this year.

“Inflation is at work here. The business owners have to constantly improvise. Either they increase the price of their commodity or they substitute. Imagine the cost of chicken 2 years ago to what is now obtainable,” @owolabibosun tweeted on the issue.

BusinessDay reported on Friday that street food business has gained more momentum in Nigeria in recent years among young people as a means of survival as the recession experienced in 2016 and 2020 pushed more people out of the job market and into poverty.

More people now patronise street food outlets as many households have been forced to reduce the number of times they cook on the back of rising prices of food items, cooking gas and kerosene amid shrinking disposable incomes.

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