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Nigerian Consumer Goods Catch Recession Fever, Shrink in Sizes

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  • Nigerian Consumer Goods Catch Recession Fever, Shrink in Sizes

Tunmise Atanda has a special relationship with a brand of sausage roll famously called Gala; it is a connection that has lasted almost a decade and strengthened by the Lagos traffic.

Since Atanda works on the Lagos Island and lives on the Mainland, she is often caught up in the rush hour traffic which slowly winds its way out of the Island through the Third Mainland Bridge at the end of every working day.

Atanda enjoys having her favourite brand of sausage roll to accompany her on this murderous daily ritual in which she sometimes spends up to five hours. So basically, theirs is a relationship that has been renewed almost daily. Well, until recently that the bonding faced its first real test.

Shrinking products

Normally, Atanda takes two sausage rolls in traffic at the cost of N100 with a soft drink of her choice, but lately; things have not been the same. Since Nigeria entered a recession, Atanda’s favourite snack has grown leaner, meaning that instead of just two sausage rolls, Atanda now requires four to be satisfied.

“I was shocked to see that Gala (sausage roll) has now become so tiny, so I will need to take at least four rolls to be satisfied, which is ridiculous,” she said.

“I still take two (Gala sausage rolls), but they don’t satisfy me. Meanwhile, before, I only needed to take two sausage rolls to be filled and I would be fine till I get home late in the evening when I’m able to get a real meal to eat. Even the sausage in the roll looks very funny now that it looks really small. If products continue to shrink like this, I wonder if there is a limit to how small they can get and what will become of them if the situation continues.”

But the development goes beyond Atanda’s favourite sausage roll to include products such as candies, noodles, detergents, soaps, bread and biscuits.

‘Satisfaction is gone’

Like Atanda, Bukola Adeniyi, a schoolteacher, has a special love. However, hers is for bread and Beloxxi Cream crackers, both of which have been shrinking too much lately for her liking.

Before now, Adeniyi only required a N60 worth of bread to be satisfied but that seems like long ago. Now, according to Adeniyi, she needs at least a N100 worth of bread to get the feeling that she has eaten.

“It appears that all products have experienced famine now because they have reduced in size and I’m not happy with the development as every company now seems to be hiding under the excuse of recession,” she said with a note of displeasure.

“Bread, candies and every other thing have been reduced in size and there is no customer satisfaction any longer. Now, maybe I will be satisfied if I eat a N100 worth of bread which was not the case before.”

And as for her favourite Beloxxi biscuits, the recent price and quantity of the snack has severed the bonding Adeniyi had with it, a situation she described as unfortunate.

She said, “I was in love with Beloxxi biscuits before but the current price and quantity have driven me far away from it. Before, it was sold for N10, but the last time I wanted to buy it, I was told the price had changed to N15 for one pack and N25 for two packs.

“Meanwhile, there used to be three biscuits in one pack but it has been reduced to two. The size of the biscuits has also reduced in addition to the reduction in the number of biscuits in each pack. So that means bye-bye to Beloxxi biscuits for now.”

A market survey showed that most products have increased in price or reduced in size while some combined both.

For instance, other brands of sausage roll like Rite, Bigi, SuperBite have also reduced in size like the Gala brand, but they all retain their N50 price.

Other lovers of biscuits will have also found out that their favourite snacks have reduced in size.

A notable example is the Coasters biscuit, which has been reduced from six to four biscuits per pack. This brand of biscuit was sold for N5 until sometime back, when the price was increased to N10, a move that also made the manufacturers increase the number of biscuits in each pack to six.

However, with the recession, the quantity of a pack of Coasters biscuit returned to four biscuits but the N10 price remained.

Also, in the soap world, the situation is the same, with many soap manufacturers increasing the prices of their products on November 1.

Before the recession, a bar of Klin multipurpose soap that was 150g cost N60, but post recession, its size has been reduced to 120g, even as it is more expensive at N70. One of its competitors-Nittol multipurpose soap- that maintained its 150g weight moved from its former price of N50 to N70.

Similarly, a pack of Klin detergent powder that used to weigh 200g now weighs 190g.

A pack of Ariel detergent powder that used to be 30g at N20 has recently undergone a transformation that has reduced its weight to 25g at the same price.

In some cases where some manufacturers chose to retain the quantity of some of their products, they simply introduced smaller packs with lower prices into the market in an attempt to meet up the spending powers of the populace, which is fast depreciating.

“In other cases, some manufacturers produce new products of lower qualities and lesser prices,” a trader dealing in household goods, Nnanyelugo Izuagba, noted.

Findings also show that a loaf of bread that was formerly N70/N80 now goes for N100; one that was formerly N100 now goes for N120; and the one that was formerly N120 now goes for N150, and so on.

And for those who like to enjoy their bread with milk, they would have noticed that the dairy industry has adjusted to the post recession production trend sweeping across the manufacturing sector.

Bread crisis looms

Chairman, Lagos State Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Prince Jacob Adejonrin, in a telephone conversation blamed the recession for the situation, while painting a gloomy picture of its effects on the bread making business.

“If the situation does not change, there is going to be a bread crisis in the country,” he said.

“Government should look into the plights of bakers and millers. The millers are finding it very difficult to get forex which is needed to bring in wheat. They get forex at a very high rate from the black market. A bag of flour is now about N12,000 while a bag of sugar is over N19,000, so we cannot afford to sell bread at affordable prices again.

“The government has talked about growing wheat in Nigeria but what has been cultivated is not ready to be harvested. But if government can empower bakers to be using locally made cassava flour to make bread, it will be okay. But that requires training and the right machinery for it. True, we have cassava in the country, but the equipment to produce flour for cassava bread is not there.”

A customer at Oba Ogunji market, Mrs. Bose Olamoyegun, who also expressed displeasure with the situation, said: “Now, I eat three packs of the smallest size of Indomie noodles, which is strange because I used to take only one and I would be satisfied.

“And I’m a woman; I don’t know the number of the same size of Indomie noodles a man will need to eat to be satisfied. Meanwhile, it is even more expensive now.”

Likewise, a Federal Government worker in Oyo State, Mr. Sogo Fasakin, who has been bothered about his increased spending on consumer goods, said despite that, his family are hardly ever satisfied these days.

The civil servant’s belief is that there is no consumer good in the market since Nigeria entered a recession that  its size has remained the same.

“From plantain chips to meat pies to akara (bean cakes) and Puff Puff, everything has shrunk now,” he said, shaking his head.

The brands of cereals I buy for my family have also been affected; they have all reduced in sizes.  Naturally, it would appear that my children now eat more, but I have realised that it is not the case. They are not getting the usual satisfaction because consumer goods have reduced in sizes.

“When you eat candy now, you only have to count from one to 50 and it is finished. Recently, when I wanted to buy meat pies for my family at a nearby restaurant, I realised that they were also smaller.”

However, the situation is also having effects on shopping modes and experience for many Nigerians.

Izuagba said unlike before, shoppers who visit his shop now make all kind of compromises before finally arriving on their picks.

He said, “For example, someone who comes in to buy Colgate toothpaste may realise that he cannot afford it again since its price has been increased from N230 t0 N250. So he may ask for Oral B toothpaste (that used to sell for N200 and now N230).

“He may also ask for Close Up toothpaste or Dabur, which used to be N180 and N170, respectively, and now N200. So eventually, he may forget about his plan to buy Colgate or Oral B and end up buying Close Up or Dabur.”

‘More factories may close shop’

President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, who also blamed the recession for the business strategies being employed by the manufacturers, said the manufacturers have not done anything illegal if the right quantity is stated on the package of their product.

“As long as they are not misrepresenting the quantity on the label, they are not doing anything illegal,” Jacobs said.

“Maybe they feel that customers might consider the product as too expensive if they increase the price and retain the old quantity. So it is a strategy to reduce the quantity so that the price can still be affordable. But they must state the right quantity on the body of the product; that way, they have not done anything illegal.

“They are just reacting to the recession and finding a way to remain in business. So they decided to reduce the quantity so that the price can remain around what it was before. These are strategies the producers are adopting to remain in business. And we Nigerians are not concerned about the quantity, what we bother about most times is the price, so I think that is what they are taking advantage of.

“But it doesn’t mean that every company is reducing the size of their products, those who do so want to assuage the feelings of customers so that they won’t feel the prices have gone up, whereas indeed, they have gone up.”

Speaking further on the situation, Jacobs warned of dire consequences should the situation remain unchanged.

He said, “If the economy continues to go in the direction it is going, many manufacturers will go out of business; there is no doubt about that. And some of these things you have described are done to make sure the manufacturers remain in business. We are engaging the government but the people in government will tell you that their hands are tied. But if nothing is done about the situation soon, many businesses will collapse.

“Already, some are out of business; some have reduced their capacity down to 20 per cent or even less, just to maintain skeletal operation. With the issue of forex, power, and others, which make our products uncompetitive globally, there is no way we can continue like this for a long time.”

Lifestyle changes

Interestingly, the tendency described by Izuagba is not limited to the market environment with patrons of bars and club houses also feeling the heat.

For instance, the recession is gradually changing Lanre Adeyemo’s lifestyle. Adeyemo is a lover of all kinds of beer, with his favourite brands being Gulder, Star and 33.

However, lately, Adeyemo has had to reconsider his ‘stubborn’ stance on liquor after the cost of each of his favourite brands of beer increased by at least N50. Although, he does not really like liquor, he has given it a second thought.

“There is a brand of dry gin that I buy now for just N200 and it does the work of two bottles of beer. That way, I won’t need N500 or more to hang out with friends and get drink,” he said.

At the popular Rumours Club in Lagos owned by legendary singer, Tuface Idibia and Dotun Omotoye, recession seems to have hit some of its fun seekers considering how they now opt for cheaper drinks.

Confirming the situation, Omotoye said: “Before, a person could order for a bottle of Dom Perignon which goes for about N100,000, but now the same person would rather opt for a pack of Don Simon which sells for N5,000.

He said, “Generally, things are slow but that is stating the obvious. You cannot compare nightclub business today with what it was some months back. Before, if we had 20 customers, we were sure that 15 of them would buy drinks. But these days, if we have about 100 customers in the club, only 10 of them will buy drinks. The rest would live off the people that are buying.

“People still come out because they must find a way to unwind but they come out to listen to music and have fun. They do not spend as much as before, which is understandable.

“The way people buy expensive drinks like champagne has changed. The way they ‘pop bottles’ has reduced drastically. It is not happening at all again. Back then, when you saw people coming to the club, you would know that a specific area would be reserved for Dom Perignon, which costs about N100,000. Now, the people you ask to buy Dom Perignon would tell you that if it is about ‘don’ we should give them Don Simon and that drink costs about N5,000. They would say they all sound like ‘don.’”

At the popular Marina market in Lagos, a trader, Secondus Nnaji, said that as the Yuletide was approaching last year, business still boomed. However, the story has changed with many of their customers now opting for tailor-made clothes, where they find them cheaper than readymade ones.

Nnaji said, “Some boys would come to our shop, take pictures of our clothes and give them to their tailors to replicate them because they feel it is cheaper that way.”

To corroborate his story, a tailor, Sammy Tiamy, said that it was true that young men now prefer to give tailors the money to sew clothes for them.

He said, “Only a few people buy clothes from boutiques these days. They prefer to give money to tailors to buy the material and sew the clothes for them because they feel it is cheaper. However, we have also witnessed a decrease in patronage because of the recession.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Sirius Petroleum and Baker Hughes Collaborate on OML 65 Drilling in Nigeria

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Sirius Petroleum, the Africa-focused oil and gas production and development company, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Baker Hughes. The MoU names Baker Hughes as the approved service provider for Phase 1 of the Approved Work Program (AWP) of the OML 65 permit, a large onshore block in the western Niger Delta, Nigeria. Baker Hughes will provide a range of drilling and related services at a mutually agreed upon pricing structure to deliver the initial nine-well program.

Sirius has signed various legal agreements with COPDC, a Nigerian joint venture, to implement this program. COPDC has signed a Financial and Technical Services Agreement (FTSA) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) for the development and production of petroleum reserves and resources on OML 65. The FTSA includes an AWP which provides for development in three phases of the block. and Sirius has entered into an agreement with the joint venture to provide financing and technical services for the execution of the PTA.

The joint venture will initially focus on the redevelopment of the Abura field, involving the drilling and completion of up to nine development wells, intended to produce the remaining 2P reserves of 16.2 Mbbl, as certified by Gaffney Cline and Associates (GCA) in a CPR dated June 2021.

Commenting, Toks Azeez, Sales & Commercial Executive of Baker Hughes, said: “We are extremely happy to have been selected for this project with Sirius and their JV partners. This project represents an important step towards providing our world-class integrated well-service solutions in one of the most prolific fields in the Niger Delta. Baker Hughes’ technological efficiency and execution excellence will help Sirius improve its profitability and competitiveness in the energy market.”

Bobo Kuti, CEO of Sirius, commented: “We are delighted to have secured the services of one of the world’s leading energy technology companies to work with our joint venture team to deliver the approved work program on the block. OML 65. We look forward to building a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Baker Hughes.”

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Egbin Decries N388B NBET Debt, Idle Capacity

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Egbin Power Plc, the biggest power station in Nigeria, has said it is owed N388bn by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc for electricity generated and fed into the national grid.

The company disclosed this on Tuesday during an oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Privatisation, led by its Chairman, Senator Theodore Orji, to the power station, located in Ikorodu, Lagos.

The government-owned NBET buys electricity in bulk from generation companies through Power Purchase Agreements and sells it to the distribution companies, which then supply it to the consumers.

The Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Mr. Kola Adesina, told the lawmakers that the total amount owed to Egbin by NBET included money for actual energy wheeled out, interest for late payments and available capacity payments.

Egbin is one of the operating entities of Sahara Power Group, which is an affiliate of Sahara Group. The plant has an installed capacity of 1,320MW consisting of six turbines of 220 megawatts each.

The company said from 2020 till date, the plant had been unable to utilize 175MW of its available capacity due to gas and transmission constraints.

Adesina said, “At the time when we took over this asset, we were generating averagely 400MW of electricity; today, we are averaging about 800MW. At a point in time, we went as high as 1,100MW. Invariably, this is an asset of strategic importance to Nigeria.

“The plant needs to be nurtured and maintained. If you don’t give this plant gas, there won’t be electricity. Gas is not within our control.

“Our availability is limited to the regularity of gas that we receive. The more irregular the gas supply, the less likely there will be electricity.”

He noted that if the power generated at the station was not evacuated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, it would be useless.

Adesina said, “Unfortunately, as of today, technology has not allowed the power of this size to be stored; so, we can’t keep it anywhere.

“So, invariably, we will have to switch off the plant, and when we switch off the plant, we have to pay our workers irrespective of whether there is gas or transmission.

“Sadly, the plant is aging. So, this plant requires more nurturing and maintenance for it to remain readily available for Nigerians.

“Now, where you have exchange rate move from N157/$1 during acquisition in 2013 to N502-N505/$1 in 2021, and the revenue profile is not in any way commensurate to that significant change, then we have a very serious problem.”

He said at the meeting of the Association of Power Generation Companies on Monday, members raised concern about the debts owed to them.

He added, “All the owners were there, and the concern that was expressed was that this money that is being owed, when are we going to get paid?

“The longer it takes us to be paid, the more detrimental to the health and wellbeing our machines and more importantly, to our staff.”

Adesina lamented that the country’s power generation had been hovering around 4,000MW in recent years.

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Oil Rises on U.S. Fuel Drawdowns Despite Surging Coronavirus Cases

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Oil prices climbed on Wednesday after industry data showed U.S. crude and product inventories fell more sharply than expected last week, reinforcing expectations that demand will outstrip supply growth even amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 48 cents, or 0.7%, to $72.13 a barrel, reversing Tuesday’s 0.4% decline.

Brent crude futures rose 34 cents, or 0.5%, to $74.82 a barrel, after shedding 2 cents on Tuesday in the first decline in six days.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group showed U.S. crude stocks fell by 4.7 million barrels for the week ended July 23, gasoline inventories dropped by 6.2 million barrels and distillate stocks were down 1.9 million barrels, according to two market sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That compared with analysts’ expectations for a 2.9 million fall in crude stocks, following a surprise rise in crude inventories the previous week in what was the first increase since May.

Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday to confirm the drop in stocks.

“Most energy traders were unfazed by last week’s build, so expectations should be high for the EIA crude oil inventory data to confirm inventories resumed their declining trend,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a research note.

On gasoline stocks, analysts had expected a 900,000 barrel decline drop in the week to July 23.

“The U.S. is still in peak driving season and everyone is trying to make the most of this summer,” Moya said.

Fuel demand expectations are undented by soaring cases of the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus in the United States, where the seven-day average for new cases has risen to 57,126. That is about a quarter of the pandemic peak.

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