‘Why Nigerians embrace food vendors’

By Francis Akinnodi


Nigeria’s stubbornly high inflation has made street food stalls a fast-growing choice for cash-strapped Nigerians.

According to a new data obtained by The Hope, it said the fall in consumers’ purchasing power and high unemployment rate have made street stalls/kiosks the most dynamic segment in the country’s consumer food service industry.

The consumer food service industry, which comprises cafés/bars, full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, self-service cafeterias and street stalls/kiosks in the formal sector, recorded total sales of $13.5 billion last year, up from $11.6 billion in 2021.

A breakdown of the total sales show that street stalls/kiosks saw the largest increase of 20 percent to $3.0 billion in 2022 from $2.5 billion in 2021. It was followed by limited-service restaurants, whose sales rose by 17.4 percent to $5.4 billion from $4.6 billion.

Full-service restaurants saw their sales increase by 15.7 percent to $577.6 million, while cafés/bars recorded a 15.4 percent growth in sales to $4.5 billion.

“As a result, street stalls are a growing segment and the service is constantly evolving and improving. Many street stalls/kiosks are made to look attractive and some even offer direct delivery to, for instance, office workers and some also use third-party apps such as KongaGood and JumiaFood,” the report said.

It said Food Concepts Limited maintained its leadership position in consumer food service last year, due both to the affordability of its offerings and the continued rapid expansion of Chicken Republic outlets across Nigeria.

A street stalls in Ondo, Ayodele Moji said street stalls/kiosks provide livelihood for millions of middle- and low-income people.

“Owners of stalls offer marginally cheaper prices because they don’t bear the overhead cost that comes with running a restaurant and they are able to break what they sell into smaller units and make affordability possible than before.

“You would find a larger share of consumers on a go on the streets which enables them to have a wider access to the market and can experience in real time what foods are moving and what price points are sustainable.”

Over the years, street food business has gained more momentum among young people as a means of survival as the recession experienced in 2016 and 2020 pushed more people out of the job market and into poverty.

Victoria Isong and Mercy Akpan, who are in their early 20s, sell noodles at Akure motor park in Ondo and make up to N5,000 daily.

“We started it in 2020 when our previous jobs as sales girls were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

Also, a Shawarma vendor, Joe Goodwin, told The Hope that he had to learn Shawarma business in order to survive as he came from a poor background.

“When I came to Ondo, I searched for work for several months, but I could not find one. So, I decided to go into the business based on the advice from my friends.”

According to the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination holder, his business makes at least N80,000 daily from which he saves N200,000 monthly and has opened another outlet last year.

“The reason why there are a lot of vendors is that there are no jobs, and in need of means to survive they turn to street food because they sell fast and require little capital to start,” Abiola Gbemisola, an analyst said.

Experts said food retailing holds the key to quick growth. According to the World Trade Organisation, Nigeria ranks as the largest food market in Africa, with significant investment in the local industry and a high level of imports.

‘Why Nigerians embrace food vendors’

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