Unveilling the lucrative potential of Nigeria’s thriving snack market

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By Kojo BRIFO

Nigeria’s consumer landscape is undergoing a significant transformation – and the snacking sector is at the forefront of this change. Beyond its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes, Nigeria boasts a rapidly growing snack market fuelled by urbanisation, rising disposable incomes and evolving consumer preferences.

The Nigerian snack food industry was valued at US$883million in 2021 and is projected to reach US$1.5billion by 2024, reflecting an estimated annual growth rate of 20%.

The legacy of flavour: a foundation for innovation

Africa’s rich flavour heritage and cultural influences lay the groundwork for the continent’s snacking culture. For centuries, communities have utilised readily available ingredients like plantain, peanuts, corn and cassava to create simple yet flavourful snacks.

These traditional options – such as Kulikuli (paste peanuts), Suya, Biltong, Boli (grilled plantain), Akara, meat pie and the ubiquitous puff-puff – remain popular, offering a connection to cultural roots and a foundation for future flavour innovation. As these snacks continue to evolve and inspire, they serve as a testament to the vibrant tapestry of Africa’s and Nigeria’s sweet and culinary heritage, inviting food enthusiasts to savour the rich and diverse world of indigenous snacks.

The modern landscape: balancing tradition with convenience

Today’s Nigerian snacking scene thrives on a unique blend of tradition and contemporary trends. The popularity of regional specialties like Chin-Chin, Plantain Chips, extruded corn with cheese flavours and sausage-rolls demonstrates the enduring appeal of heritage flavours. Stricter regulations have also led to improvements in quality and packaging, ensuring a more consistent and appealing product for consumers.

However, the rise of urban life and busy lifestyles has fuelled a surge in commercially produced snacks. Local companies have embraced this shift, packaging traditional treats in convenient formats to cater for the on-the-go consumer. International brands have also entered the fray, capitalising on rising disposable incomes and a growing appetite for variety. This dynamic interplay between tradition and convenience presents a lucrative opportunity for manufacturers who can offer innovative products that resonate with local preferences.

Understanding the Snacking Ecosystem: Key Considerations

Street hawkers and vendors: Street food holds a special place in the sweet landscape of any country, serving as a window into its cultural soul and gastronomic traditions. In Nigeria, street food is more than just a convenient option; it’s a way of life and an integral part of the country’s culinary heritage.

From bustling markets to roadside stalls, the streets of Nigeria are alive with the aroma of sizzling meats, savoury and sweet snacks, and aromatic spices. Nigerian street food reflects the country’s rich diversity, blending influences from various ethnic groups and regions to create a tapestry of flavours and textures. Beyond satisfying hunger, Nigerian street food fosters social connections; bringing people together to share in the joy of good food and cultural exchange.

  • Millennials on the move: Millennials are a key demographic shaping snacking trends in Nigeria. Time constraints and busy lifestyles have led them to adopt snacking as a meal replacement, demanding convenient options that are both filling and flavourful. Available sachetised snacks, sold at traffic spots with extended shelf-life, are gaining traction.

Beyond practicality, millennials crave exciting taste experiences. Bold spices, innovative flavour combinations and playful shapes can all capture the attention of this demographic. Manufacturers who can cater to this adventurous spirit and tap into the ‘fun factor’ of snacking are well-positioned to win over millennial consumers.

  • Health meets indulgence: While convenience and excitement remain key drivers, health consciousness is also playing an increasingly important role. Consumers are actively seeking out ‘permissible indulgence’ snacks that combine deliciousness with healthier ingredients like nuts, whole grains and vegetables.

Additionally, the rise of allergy awareness has led to an increased demand for gluten-free and allergen-friendly options. This trend presents a significant opportunity for manufacturers to develop innovative snack formulations that cater to both indulgence and health aspirations.

Freddy Hirsch Nigeria as a partner for local success

Freddy Hirsch Nigeria recognises the importance of local flavours and preferences. By leveraging deep consumer insights, we develop winning snack flavour profiles specifically for the West African region. This meticulous approach considers factors like preferred spice levels, textures and the unique flavour profiles of various regions. We have developed new snack flavour categories such as cheese, hot and spicy, smoke (BBQ and Suya), sweet (vanilla, milk, banana, caramel and butter) and vegetable (caramelised onion, tomato and ginger).

Freddy Hirsch goes beyond flavour creation, working closely with snack manufacturers to refine production processes. Our focus on quality control ensures consistent flavour delivery and optimal shelf-life, building consumer trust and brand loyalty.

Additionally, we prioritise responsible sourcing practices by utilising locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. Not only does this reduce our environmental footprint but it also strengthens the local agricultural economy. We actively explore ways to minimise waste throughout the production process, catering to environmentally conscious consumers.

According to Mondelēz’s State of Snacking report, snacks are less resistant to inflation as a meal since 71% of people around the world snack at least twice a day – with consumers doing it more during breakfast, lunch and dinner last year compared to 2020.

In the report, about 80% of surveyed consumers emphasised the need for snacking indulgences every day. McCormick’s 2024 Trend Report on snacking stated that 64% of Canadian and 73% of U.S. consumers claim to eat savoury snacks 2-3 times a week or more.

The importance of snacks cannot be overemphasised and Freddy Hirsch Nigeria continues to develop authentic local snack flavours at the most affordable costs, given its non-FX requirements, without sacrificing convenience and quality.

Freddy Hirsch Nigeria is committed to transforming snack products – chips, crackers, nuts, popcorn, biscuits – into inspiring ones and improving on texture, mouthfeel and nutritional and sustainability benefits. The ability to adapt to local taste differentiates Freddy Hirsch and makes its flavours unique.

Kojo Brifo is Managing Director-Freddy Hirsch Nigeria and West Africa.

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