How Nutritious is Your Food?

Did you know that malnutrition kills 5 million children under the age of 5 every year – an average of 1 child every six seconds? According to the 2008 Demographic & Health Survey, 41% of Nigerian children under the age of 5 years are classified as stunted, 14% are wasted and 23% are underweight. By the age of 2-3 years, the effect of malnutrition becomes irreversible, therefore, combating malnutrition has to start with children within the first 2 years of life. Sahel’s work over the years has focused on addressing this challenge of malnutrition through our advisory and consulting projects for a range of clients. This newsletter highlights some of this pioneering work.

Hunting for Good Nutrition

Sahel Capital was engaged by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in 2012 to perform an in-depth market landscape analysis on nutritious packaged foods in three key states in Nigeria – Anambra, Kano, and Lagos. The output of this study was geared towards refining GAIN’s nutrition-related interventions in Nigeria. Sahel Capital gathered market data from over 560 supermarkets and informal market shops within the targeted states, as well as interviewed selected local manufacturers over a four-month period. The result of the study showed that over 95% of packaged nutritious foods are either imported or produced by multinationals with operations in Nigeria. The most visible nutritious food products for children were multinational brands, like Nestle’s Cerelac, Nutrend, and Golden Morn products, and Pfizer Wyeth Nutrition’s range of SMA milk formula products. Market share among local manufacturers is highly fragmented with most only having a presence in 1 – 3 states. Sixty-one (61) indigenous manufacturers of nutritious packaged food were identified whose products incorporated soy flour, cowpea flour, or beans flour. Most of these companies were small scale processors with less than five employees, had been in operation for less than five years, and tended to operate from or near the owners’ homes. A few firms had a relatively larger scale, the most prominent of which were Ayoola Foods, Amsel, Bejide Industries, Dala Foods, and Lisabi Mills. There are a number of constraints faced by local manufacturers in the production and sale of packaged nutritious foods: (1) Product perception – Nigerian Consumers have an implicit preference for multinational and/or imported packaged nutritious food products influenced by perceptions (and possibly the reality) of product quality, and reinforced by large marketing budgets of these firms; (2) There is limited awareness of the importance of nutrition and which food products are the most nutritious, especially amongst lower-income consumers; (3) Manufacturers face substantial hurdles building local supply chain capacity for agricultural raw materials required for their operations; and (4) SME indigenous manufacturers have limited distribution capacity outside of their core state/region versus well developed multinational sales and distributions networks. As the cost of imported nutrient-rich food escalates, a sense of urgency is needed to scale up the manufacturing and distribution of nutritious packaged food products in Nigeria. This is critical for Nigeria as a nation to ensure that all our children have access to the appropriate nutrition in their meals and not just those who can afford imported packaged foods for their infants.

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