• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Food takes bigger bite out of Nigerians’ wallets

Food takes bigger bite out of Nigerians’ wallets

Food items are getting costlier for Nigerians as prices climb higher, fuelling hunger and taking a big bite out of consumers’ wallets, BusinessDay’s findings show.

The average food prices have surged by over 70 percent since January, according to a BusinessDay survey across major markets in Lagos, on the back of lingering insecurity challenges, climate change impact and an acute dollar squeeze.

“With the constant surging prices, food alone now accounts for 70 percent of my monthly income,” said Rachael Olumade, a secondary school teacher at Ojodu.

Read also: 12 food items to keep you healthy this Ramadan

“The worst thing is that the prices won’t go back down even if inflation starts declining. I haven’t seen anything that goes up and comes down again in the country,” she added.

Muyiwa Oladimeji, a storekeeper in a factory at Ikorodu, said food now takes 80 percent of his monthly disposable income, which has already been eroded by inflation.

“Food is life and we cannot afford not to eat, no matter the price,” he said. “Life in Nigeria is now characterised by the struggle to afford necessities such as food.”

He said his daily goal is to put food on the table for his family of four before thinking of incurring any other costs.

A 2023 data compiled by Picodi, an international e-commerce organisation, stated that Nigerian households spend 59 percent of their income on food, the highest globally.

Buoyed by rising food costs, Nigeria’s inflation rate quickened to 29.97 percent in January, eroding incomes and savings, and amplifying a cost of living crisis. Also, food inflation accelerated to 35.41 percent in January 2024 from 24.32 percent a year earlier, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The persistent rise in food prices is adding more strain on consumers’ already squeezed wallets. Their plights are further heightened by the weak naira, which is also a key factor behind price pressure alongside high energy and logistics costs.

“I make between N2,500 and N3,000 as profit from my daily sales. Before, I used to save N1,500 and spend N1,000 on food for my children every evening but now what can N1,000 buy?” Kafilat Ibrahim, a trader at Mile 12 Market said.

Read also: We are moving to end food crisis, hardship in Nigeria — Governors

“I spend everything I make now on food; so I have suspended my daily savings.”

According to recent research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), consumers in low-income countries spend a greater proportion of their budgets on food than those in higher-income countries.

The research paper said that in Nigeria, Kenya, Burma, and Bangladesh, more than 50 percent of consumers’ income went towards food in 2022.

Real wages, which reflect the power of employee pay after accounting for inflation, have fallen in Nigeria tumbled, thus making Nigerians poorer. The situation is worse for low-income households.

The average income in Nigeria was $2,160 in 2022, according to the World Bank income per capita for the country. But even that does not tell the full story in a country where 133 million people are suffering from multidimensional poverty.

The World Bank, in its latest Nigeria Development Update report, said sluggish growth and accelerating inflation in Africa’s biggest economy have raised the poverty rate by 46 percent in 2023 from 40 percent in 2018, with the number of poor Nigerians put at 104 million.

The global bank also said the country’s inflation has eroded the N30,000 minimum wage by 55 percent, thus reducing household expenditure.

Read also: Global food prices fall for seventh straight month in February

“The continuous surge in prices has wiped off savings from my monthly salary. I cannot even save any more. I spend 60 percent of my income on food alone and the rest on transportation and accommodation,” said Timothy Chukwueze, a sales representative at Alaba International Market.