AS Nigerians continue to grapple with a record rise in inflation, especially with food items, there are fears of an impending food crisis in the nation.
The estimated 225 million people in Africa’s largest economy have experienced a continuous rise in costs for basic goods, especially foods, since 2020.
Costs for meals have increased significantly in recent years, which continues to affect household feeding and food businesses such as restaurants, caterers, food vendors and bakers.
Most Nigerian families have reduced their food intake from three square meals a day to two or even one.
This is the case of Bimpe Adetunji, a mother of four.
‘The inflation is just increasing on a daily basis, and it is affecting all the sectors. Think of any item, it is affecting it. An egg is now N100. Mudu (a medium-sized measuring bowl) of Garri is now N600. The only thing one can do to balance the situation is do opportunity cost – things that are most important are what you should focus on, and things that are not important, you leave it out” she said.
A university undergraduate who simply identified himself as John stated that he had to cut down on feeding expenses as his feeding allowance was no longer sustainable.
“In my early years in school, my dad was giving me N20,000, I always used N10,000 out of it for provisions and foodstuffs. The rest went to handouts, clothing and other basic needs. But now the same amount doesn’t sustain me for more than two weeks. I have had to cut down on my spending, I don’t eat what I want.
“I can’t even buy foodstuffs again. I rather eat out. When eating out, it’s just small portions of food that are served which can’t be enough for you,” he lamented.
He added that he often complemented the food with carbonated drinks.
In this report, The ICIR reported the health implications of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Food sellers groan
Faridah Awodele, an online food trader, confirmed to The ICIR that inflation had significantly impacted her profit margin. She has adjusted her prices many times in few months, and she no longer makes the profits she has previously made.
‘In a lot of ways generally, the profit margin has reduced drastically. we just try to satisfy customers. We have had to increase prices because of inflation. But at the same time, we can’t increase prices ridiculously. So, at some point, we have to reduce our profit margin to make our goods affordable for our customers.
“We even had to stop selling certain goods because of the prices. When you look at the cost of getting it, and you try to add your profit and everything, eventually, it’s not worth it,’ Awodele complained.
Adejoke Aderounmu, who runs a restaurant where she sells local rice and beans, shares the same feeling as Awodele. As she tries to remain in business while attempting to please consumers, she decries “over 100 per cent price rise in the purchase of condiments and other ingredients.”
“Ofada rice that I normally bought for a mudu at N2000 now goes for N4500, and I am selling for N2000 per plate. Before, I could get the mudu for N400 or N500 and I sold a plate at very cheap price.”
Apart from her not earning as much as she used to, her sales have dwindled.
“The sale is not as it used to be. Customers would complain that there’s no money. Before, I could sell 25-30 plates of food daily, but now I hardly sell up to 15 plates because everyone is complaining. This is a tough time for business owners, Aderounmu whined.
Alarming food price differentials in just 12 months
According to a market survey recently conducted by The ICIR comparing the increase in food prices between 2022 and 2023, food prices have increased by as much as 30 per cent in the past one year.
Previously sold for N2,200 per kilogram, chicken now costs between N2200 and N2400. A 50 kg bag of rice that once cost N47,000 now costs N53,000, while a 50kg bag of beans that used to cost between N50,000 and N55,000 now sells for N65,000-N70,000.
Similarly, a bag of garri that once cost between N20,000 and N25,000 now sells between N26,000 and N30,000, and a mudu of flour currently costs N1,100 from N900 in 2022.
The ICIR reports further that a mudu of granulated sugar costs N1800 from N1100 in 2022, and a litre of palm oil that was once sold for N800 is now N2000.
Although seasonal variations impact the cost of vegetables, especially pepper, onions and tomatoes, the prices of vegetables have unusually soared in the past 12 months. According to The ICIR’s market survey of some of grocery stores in Abuja, a large basket of tomatoes costs between N8,000 and N10,000 when it is in season and between N20,000 and N40,000 when it is not.
Convenience items such as spaghetti, noodles, and bread have also increased in price. A family-sized loaf of bread is now sold for N1,200 instead of N700, while 500 grams of spaghetti that was sold for N400 in 2022 is now N650, 120 grams of noodles that was sold for N170 in 2022 currently sells for N220 and a crate of eggs goes for N3,000 from N2,200.
How subsidy removal, others worsens prices
The ICIR reported some of the inflationary pressures were caused by banditry, insecurity and shutting down of the land borders. Although some of the land borders have been reopened, Nigerians still bear the brunt due to some other factors, such as the rising cost of transportation due to the fuel subsidy removal.