With an estimated population of over 200 million people, representing 2.5% of the global population, Nigeria is a readymade market for food and beverage related business. Buttressing this is the popular Nigerian saying that ‘you can’t do food business and run at loss, especially in commercial nerve cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt. In the Nigerian food and beverage market, the food segment was the market’s most lucrative, with total revenues of $33.7bn, equivalent to 75% of the market’s overall value.
In recent years, the increasing rate of internet migrants, the emergence of a tech-savvy generation known as millennials, and the ever-busy working class in traffic-congested cities like Lagos, has further expanded the food and grocery business, as consumers seek comfort and convenience when shopping for food. And with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for online food delivery rose significantly as a result of the lockdown and social distancing guidelines. Many people relied heavily on food delivery as opposed to shopping in grocery markets
Consequently, online food delivery gained momentum through companies such as Jumia Food. Ecommerce platforms have become a major connection between numerous buyers and sellers. “Our partnership with Jumia has consistently provided us with an opportunity to expand our existing customer base, attend to the dining needs of our customers at their convenience and in an efficient manner and reward our customers for continually trusting us,” said Ufuoma Ogeleka, Head of Marketing, The Place Restaurant while speaking on the benefit of Jumia partnership with the restaurant.
Other restaurants such as Chicken Republic, Sweet Sensation, Kilimanjaro, Drumstick, Sooyah Bistro to mention a few, have also embraced the ecommerce platforms like Jumia to reach more customers. According to Pop Singer and CEO, Sooyah Bistro, Bankole Wellington, online platforms such as Jumia were crucial to food business survival connecting with their customers during the lockdown.
“Sales dropped drastically, companies shut down, and a lot of people lost their jobs. We’re grateful that Jumia kept their operation going; it was reassuring to customers, helped give them options for food at a very uncertain and difficult time, and for vendors like us, it was a huge help to still be able to keep sales going during that period. The sales we got through Jumia helped greatly in keeping our employees paid, and our operation running,” the singer said.
It is expected that the online food delivery trend will become a common lifestyle among the emerging middle-class population, with many relying on having their hot meals and groceries delivered at their doorsteps, as against going out to offline retail stores to purchase. “In the coming years, we expect the internet will still have a very strong influence on overall customer decision making, an increase of self-serving order taking portals within the restaurants for walk-in and dine-in customers to become widely adopted and voice ordering integration to most mobile applications,” Ogeleka added.
The online marketplace is no doubt boosting local food sales for restaurants, as new generations of Nigerian middle-class consumers are spending more money on food and grocery products, thereby helping to fuel growth in the market. With proper support, the apparent boom in the sector will rub off positively on the agricultural sector with the creation of more jobs and massive food production.