Nigerians’ appetite for processed food has increased, spending over N508 billion on processed food imports in H1 2021. This is according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Nigeria spent over N508 billion in H1 2021 on the importation of processed food mainly for households, contributing 3.5% to the total imports recorded in the review period.

This is more than what the country spent in the whole of 2019, which was about 444 billion. The amount of imported processed food in the six month period already trails the 686 billion seen in 2020, indicative of an increased appetite for processed food.

The demand for industrially processed food has also seen a similar hike, with 2021 half-year import standing at N541 billion, contributing 3.57% to the total imports. The import expense surpassed the N393 billion spent in 2019. Meanwhile, Nigeria imported N767 billion worth of industrially processed food in 2020 while 2021 is still poised to maintain this upward trend.

Nigeria exported total products worth N7.99 trillion during the review period, while importing total merchandise worth N13.8 trillion, resulting in a trade balance of -N5.81 trillion between January and June 2021.

This follows prior periods of recurring trade deficits of N2.25 trillion in H1 2020 and N5.12 trillion in H2 2020. However, this is by far Nigeria’s largest trade deficit in any half-year period.

What you should know

Sugar, fat, and empty calories are commonly found in heavily processed meals. Obesity, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, cancer, and depression have all been related to eating a lot of these items, which has long been associated to an increased risk of heart disease and early death.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Nanono, expressed optimism that Nigeria will stop the importation of sugar in 2022,
He said, “I am optimistic that in the next two years we don’t need to import sugar into this country because of the amount of investment made and the funds that are coming within the next two years we will meet the requirement of 1.5 million metric tonnes annually; the Dangote Group, Flour Mill Group, Bua Group will produce sugar that we need in this country.”
The CBN has made an effort to discourage the importation of goods that are likely to be manufactured in the country. In addition to the 41 foreign exchange restrictions (mainly on food), the CBN launched the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) in the agriculture sector to help promote domestic food production.