The nation’s Agricultural value chain development appears to be gaining more acceptance with the entry of Nigeria’s first ever locally-produced groundnut spread – Nutzy peanut butter – which the makers say offers more even value than imported brands.
The brand, a product of the food division of VIK Industries Limited, a diversified conglomerate that has been in operation in Nigeria for over 50 years, has opened new vista of opportunities for groundnut farmers in terms of guaranteed uptake of products and adds a fresh angle to culinary choices of Nigerians.
Managing Director, VIK Industries, Mr. Ajay Ramnanai, said that apart from the usual bread spread, Nuttzy peanut butter can be applied in different ways including preparation of local soups, sauces and dips.
He said the idea of venturing into local production of groundnut spread came about from his realization that foreign peanut butter brands had dominated the store shelves over the years which made a solid business case for local production given that groundnut is widely produced and consumed across many parts of the country.
Ramnani said extensive research had resulted in a high quality product that offers much more value in terms of pricing and packaging, yet had the unique taste that only Nigerian groundnut varieties, widely acknowledged as among the best in the world, could offer.
According to him, “The major advantage is local groundnut taste. I think the groundnuts available in Nigeria are of really good quality. They are exportable standard and Nigerian groundnuts don’t taste like that anywhere in the world. It has a distinct flavour. So I think the fact that we have that flavour in our peanut butter is what really differentiates us. In terms of quality, we have a fully automated food factory so there is nothing compromising. In terms of the price, I’d say we’re less than half the price of all imported brands.”
He also noted that peanut butter offer a healthier alternative to more common spreads such as margarine and mayonnaise, as it contains unsaturated fatty acids with low cholesterol, high protein and fibre content, which makes it suitable and wholesome part of the diet for all age groups especially children as well as people with special needs such as diabetics and those seeking to lose weight.
Ramnani said the company was looking forward to introducing other varieties apart from the “creamy” and “crunchy” variants currently in the market and has been well received going by results from an ongoing sampling and market activation campaign being implemented in different open markets and retail stores in major cities across Nigeria.
Speaking on the challenges facing the manufacturing sector, Ramnani, advocated more support for the critical sector through a broad incentives regime, stressing that this was the key to job creation efforts.
He emphasised the need for increased value addition to Nigerian agricultural products, which he said would deliver the twin benefits of conserving foreign exchange outflow while boosting much needed inflows.
This effort, he noted, requires private sector input and investments to make it work. “I’d say they should definitely go for it. I’d say that they should help us expand our agricultural industry. The government is pushing and we need to do our own bit to help, there’s only so much the government can do but at the end of the day, there has to be a market for the produce.”