Foodstuff exports offer business opportunities. But only very few businessmen know about it. One of those who have taken advantage of this is Chukwuogo, who started as a wheel barrow food vendor at Oyinbo market, Lagos. Chukwuogo, also Chairman of Oyingbo Food Stuff Market Association, Lagos, started export business in 2008. The company processes and packages African food items, such as pumpkin (ugwu) for export . He never knew it was a lucrative market until a lady introduced him into it.
Chukwuogo said that there are opportunities in exporting farm produce. Vegetables and pepper, for example, are in high demand. Despite the numerous benefits of trading overseas, only few food small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) export. This is due in part to business owners’ feelings that they are unable to find the right information which will enable them to develop an export strategy.
Before venturing into food export, he said businessmen and women must understand that export is for the long haul and, carefully, consider what they want to achieve.
He said the most successful exporters are not only patient and proactive, they are also prepared to foster relationships with overseas buyers and consumers over the long-term. They are always looking for opportunities and seeking new deals.
Encouraging more Nigerians to explore the market, Chukwuogo said one could start and make a living from it.
This has made Nigeria Export Workshop to initiate a programme to train would-be exporters on the correct procedures for exporting food products. The training gives prospective exporters the tools they need to grow food export business internationally. This helps them to avoid transport and processing delays.
Chukwuogo said Europe is a destination for exporters of food products. The market is thriving because there are large communities of Africans in Europe and the United States, who are keen to eat their local delicacy.
According to him, the market for food items abroad is promising. Traditional Nigerian foods, he said, are fast-moving items abroad, and smaller companies can tap into it. As the food industry continues to grow, the potential for small business, he noted is still great.
Chukwuogo has enjoyed export success over the past 10 years. He has been able to export food stuff through packages using the aero plane. Since then, he has made a fortune and made further efforts to identify contacts in the broader food service industry in Europe. His customers include bakeries, food wholesalers and supermarkets abroad. For him, exports of prepared and packaged foods from Africa will continue to expand, with Nigeria’s reputation for food items increasing around the world.
High demand from overseas markets for food products, and continued demand from the domestic market, would help small businesses in the industry improve profitability, he said. For him, there has never been a better time for small food businesses to start exporting.
Though more food and drink businesses are waking up to the benefits of export and, in spite of increased competition in the international marketplace, demand for Nigerian food products remains high, he added.
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