BusinessDay

Rising food prices are making Nigeria’s local delicacies luxury goods

“Ghana jollof would soon outwit Nigerian jollof” Steve Onoja, a Mararaba resident moaned at a popular bukka, a local restaurant, name withheld for confidentiality, along the Keffi-Abuja axis.

When he was interviewed, he stated that the bukka used to be a safe haven for him in years past as the price of their jollof rice was affordable as well as tasty.

He said that the current price and taste have depreciated for him and he wasn’t sure it was because of the outrageous price, but that he resents jollof rice (at least from that bukka).

In an interview with Businessday, the manager of the restaurant (bukka), Damilola Ajibade, stated that while all the comments of Steve were true, his indictment against the quality of their jollof rice was false.

He stated that they tried maintaining the goodwill they had with customers by maintaining their regular prices but later discovered that they were running into huge losses.

“A plate of jollof rice was N150 on the average in 2019, today, the least price we sell is going for N350-N500, and that would not even satisfy anyone”, Damilola stated.

He went further to elaborate that vegetable oil that was formerly sold for N5, 000 – N10, 500 plus, is currently being sold for N20, 000. A bag of rice is currently sold for N23, 000-N25, 000. He said that the most ridiculous spike for him was that of bottled water which was formerly going for N50 is now being sold at N100-N150 (even sachet water is currently N20), he added. He explained that as much as he sympathises with Nigerians considering their fixed income in relation to rising prices, he must also consider his family as well.

Stanley, a customer at KFC stated that he would rather spend that large sum of money at a luxury eatery and satisfy his “belle and conscience”, then go to a bukka that is supposed to be pocket-friendly and spend the same amount. He added that the only difference is that he’s spending a little more for convenience.

Ajetumobi, a market trader, when interviewed also elaborated that the prices of major food items were on a steady rise.

She stated that the price of Semovita which most restaurants buy has risen from N2, 700 to N3, 000. She stated that while most restaurants usually put a price on just the cost of “solid” (semovita, pounded yam, garri, amala, et cetera) without including the prices of soups before, now they have started putting prices of soup because of the current price spike of food items.

She also added that most restaurants are currently reducing the quantities of their food portions, especially the “solid” foods (semovita and the likes).

She blamed the current levels of insecurity in the North and stated that most times, people that bring in goods (agricultural produces) from there are not just including the price of the food items alone, but also the risk of putting their lives on the line as well as all the clearance payments they make to bandits they encounter on their way to deliver these goods.

A former plantain chips producer stated that he could no longer continue the business as the prices of plantain suddenly became ridiculously high. He stated that if he was to continue the business, then the price of one pack of his plantain chips would almost be at par with the price of a ‘chicken burger’ at Chicken Republic…how ridiculous is that?

Nigerians have been hit with a further hike in the prices of staple food items such as flour, groundnut oil, pepper, tomatoes, noodles amongst others.

These food items witnessed a significant surge in price, which has resulted in low sales turnouts in various markets in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun State.

Read Also: High input costs, insecurity, climate change take toll on food prices

A market analysis of staple food items carried out by BUSINESSDAY revealed that 25 litres of groundnut oil that was initially sold for an average of N19,875 now sells for N20,375, representing a 2.5 percent increase in price.

Also, a 50kg bag of Honeywell flour now sells for an average of N15, 125 as against the initial average of N13, 800.

A big basket of round-shaped tomatoes spiked by as much as 10 percent to sell for an average of N16, 500, while a medium-sized bag of pepper skyrocketed by 85.7 percent to sell for an average of N13,000.

A 10kg bag of Mama Gold rice recorded a marginal increase of 1.1 percent to sell for an average of N4,600, while the 50kg sized bag sells for an average of N23,125 as against an initial average of N22,875.

A 50kg bag of Oloyin beans (honey beans) now sells for an average of N29, 500 from an initial average of N25, 625. This represents an increase of 15.1 percent compared to two weeks ago.

The price of a carton of 305g size of Indomie, generally known as Belle Full increased by 5 percent to sell for an average of N3, 688. The 200g carton of Indomie noodles (Hungry man) also sells for an average of N3, 700, representing an increase of 10.9 percent compared to N3, 338 recorded earlier in the month. A carton of 100g of Chikki noodles sells for an average of N2, 950. This a 34.1 percent increase compared to an initial average of N2, 200.

A big basket of round-shaped tomatoes currently sells for an average of N16, 500. This represents a 10 percent increase compared to the N15,000 recorded two weeks ago. Also, the price of a medium-sized basket of round-shaped tomatoes increased by 14.3 percent to sell for an average of N8,000 as against an initial average of N7,000.

A big bag of pepper now sells for an average of N15, 000 at Mile-12 market, representing a 17.6 percent increase compared to an initial average of N12, 750. The medium-sized bag of pepper also recorded an increase of 85.7% to sell for an average of N13, 000.

In the same vein, a big bag of melon currently sells for an average of N43, 500. This represents an increase of 4.8 percent when compared to N41,500 initially recorded. Also, the price of a big bag of onions recorded a 4.3 percent increase to sell for an average of N18,250.

One major problem identified which requires the attention of the government is the mismatch between growing food prices and stagnant income earnings of the general populace and the incentives put in place have not fared any better.

The increase in prices across the value chain shows that few incentives by the Nigerian government have failed to stem the problem and thus ensure food security. The launch of the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme has proven futile despite the Central Bank’s effort.

According to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated that the initiative was to raise a new crop of entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, provide the infrastructure that would support the sustainable production of poultry as well as reduce pressure for foreign exchange demand through import substitution. Nearly 3 years after and the programme is yet to increase agricultural output and make them more affordable.

Analysts are of the opinion that if this trend continues, the average Nigerian would not be able to afford two decent meals per day in the next five years.

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