The beautiful experience derived from the determined drive by Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) to enhance Small and Medium Scale (SME) industry, with a focus on Nigeria’s potentially lucrative Food and Drink sub-sector of the economy is most welcome. Tagged GTBank Food and Drink Fair it entered the Third Edition from Sunday 28th April and stretched for four days to Wednesday, 1st of May. It took place at Plot 1, Water Corporation Drive Oniru, Lagos.
In fact, the compelling annual event is a food exhibition and sales event that aims to project the diverse angles of the food industry. This is achieved “by connecting various businesses involved in the production and sale of food-related items to a cosmopolitan audience of food enthusiasts”. By that, immense values are added to food business through the exposure, sales, contacts and connections between them and customers as well as meeting their varied culinary expectations and nutritional needs.
The well planned and executed format encompasses Exhibitions, Master Classes, Pop-up Restaurants and Kids Arena. In specific terms, the Exhibitions is meant to increase brand visibility and sales, whilst showcasing the latest products, trends and innovations in the food industry. On its part, the Master Classes achieves the objectives of fostering knowledge and capacity building for all, featuring cooking lessons from top Nigerian and foreign chefs.
Through the Pop-up Restaurants customers get to enjoy a variety of tastings from casual to gourmet traditional Nigerian dishes and continental specialties. The Kids Arena provides a cozy, family- friendly ambience as an event for the kids. Through it children have the opportunity to engage in fun and thrilling, educational activities.
For yours truly, a personal visit to the Fair became an imperative. The aim was to have a first-hand view, knowledge and experience of the aforestated promises made by GTB Bank. Also, the essence was to meet with and engage some of the participants as to know what they do and what leverage, if any, the Food and Drink Fair has brought to their variegated businesses. What an exciting moment it turned out to be!
For instance, young and enterprising Mr. Victor Adesanya of Vicdam Farms beamed with smiles as several customers besieged his stand for his unique presentation of several spices. These include thyme, black pepper, white pepper, peppersoup spice, suya spice, grill mix and a variety of powder from ginger, garlic, fenugreek, chilli, curry, cinnamon and turmeric.
In addition to these, the other products from his Akute, Ogun State-based farm include rabbit, eggs, fresh vegetables, guinea fowl, mixed grains, fonio (acha) and fresh milk. He was full of praises for the GTB Food Fair as it provided him the opportunity to showcase and sell some of these products to many customers. But he was not alone in his gratitude.
In a similar vein, Mrs. Temisan Dawodu, from Ijegun, Ikotun, Lagos state, who goes by the name of the Chief Snail Slayer and the CEO of Shellcrop Farm paraded not a few sizes of snails which she boasted is potent as cure to high blood pressure, if taken regularly. As for Aisha Ime-James, who runs her food processing outfit at the Technology Incubation Centre, Pen Cinema, Agege, also in Lagos her company’s services are much sought-after. And what could they possibly be?
They are into the fast-developing waste recycling and food processing businesses. Others include compounding of herbs, provision of ethnic soups and stews made available in bowls, outdoor catering as well as coaching. The Fair, to her was a good launching pad for her products and services.
Another fruitful contact made was with the Dolapo and Grace-led Ikorodu, Lagos-based Grace Aion Farms. The focus is on fish farming as the company produces catfish, from hatchery to grow out to processing .It is into the processing of the popular, spicy killishi snack and deboned fillet. Apart from adding plantation and production of seeds, it is involved in farm set- up, management and consultancy.
And what about Applecart Nigeria? It comes on board as a provider of sundry food items boasting that the customers should “say goodbye to market wahala”! But why, you may ask? This is because it does not only produce but supplies beef, live chicken, catfish, stockfish, goat meat, different vegetables and seafood right to the customer’ table.
The same goes for SwanCape Farms with their farm-to-door provision of AuntieGeez vegetables, eggs and fish. Going by their words they are farm fresh and hygienic produce delivered within a day of harvest.
As far as creativity goes, two other companies wowed the customers with their products and services. The first is Grandma’s Hut with uniquely bottle-packaged fresh palm wine and some finger foods. The second is the Holo Crunch Shop with its variety of multi-coloured, crunchy and tasty pop-corn that got the kids jumping for more!
Adding these to the great knowledge shared by highly experienced facilitators for the masterclasses was one tasty treat to be savoured for years to come. Thought-provoking lectures such as “ Blogging and Burgers; From Street Food to Global Cuisines” by Chris Fynes and Tom Reaney, “ Building and Maintaining a World Class Restaurant” by Phil Howard, “The Secrets to Blending Seasoning to Perfection” by Matse Uwatse got customers salivating for more. And so did others such as “Creating Evergreen Content for Food” by Kinora Awini, “Acting your Cakes” by Duff Goldman, “Reinventing Traditional Recipes” by Thitid Tassanakajohn and “What grows together goes together- A Lesson from Mother Nature” by Luke Whearty.
In all, the GTB Food and Drink Fair is a brilliant idea that has come at the right time. Firstly, it falls in tandem with the call for the diversification from the oil-dominated economy. Secondly, its focus on SMEs is auspicious and it is poised to grow the local food and beverage industry, if sustained.
Furthermore, it has shown that Nigerian foodpreneurs have a lot to offer the world but they need stable power supply, access to fertile fields, low interest loans as GTB offers at 9 per cent and a sustained media exposure to connect the businessmen with the public. Well done GTB!
Ayo Oyoze Baje