Soft drink market
Nigeria’s current population is 182 million people according to National Population Commission. Though Nigeria has been in recession after negative growth in the first two quarters of 2016, resulting to a decrease in the purchasing power of her citizens, Euromonitor International recorded that 38.68 million liters of soft drinks were sold in 2016 in Nigeria, putting Nigeria only behind the United States, China and Mexico in the top markets ranking.
The total volume and value sales of Zobo drink in Nigeria are expected to grow well as the economy recovers from recession and Nigeria’s fast-growing population brings with it a continuing demand for soft drinks especially as the climate is quite hot. Euromonitor international forecasted that all categories of soft drinks are expected to also see positive sales growth between 2016 and 2021, largely due to population growth, urbanization, a desire for novel products and marketing activities by major companies.
The soft drink industry in Nigeria saw intense competition in 2016 as a result of new entrants recently – Big and Bigi Cola. Big’s launched a new 65cl PET bottle at lower retail price and won consumers over. Bigi Cola also enjoyed good demand when it was launched. Coke and Pepsi lost a part of the market to these new entrants. This suggests that there is opportunity for a new product to come into the market and captured a segment from the big players.
Zobo Industry market
Zobo drink is a common local nutritious drink which is a household name in Nigeria. It is a non-alcoholic local beverage made from the calyxes of the flower Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is rich in carotenoids (especially beta-carotene) and ascorbic acid (vitamin c). It It contains citric acid and higher amount of ascorbic acid compared to orange and mango. Succinic acid and oxalic acid were quantified as two predominant organic acids in the calyxes of the flower.
It is also rich in vitamin A and B (riboflavin, and niacin}, minerals (calcium and iron) and antioxidants (including flavonoids, gossypetine, hibiscetine and sadderetine). It has as a diuretic, mild laxative and treatment for cardiac and nerve diseases. Zobo lower blood pressure and is used for the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia. The red calyxes of the plant are increasingly exported to America and Europe where their red colored pigment is used as food coloring.
It was mostly consumed by low-income earners but it is recently gaining wide acceptance, being consumed by several millions of people from different socio-economic classes and background in the West Africa sub-region.
It is a beverage produced on small-scale by traditional women at minimal cost as its ingredients are cheap and readily available. The Zobo industry is at the infant stage and it is a growth industry. According to Federal Institute for Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), it is estimated that the national demand for Zobo drink is in excess of 150 million liters per annum.
New government policies on agriculture, Forex and the ban on the importation of fruit juice is a boost to production of local beverages such as Zobo drink. An ongoing shift among Nigerians from unbranded, unpacked food to branded and well packaged food supported by increased urbanization and changing consumer lifestyle as well as development of modern retail channels presents business opportunities for a well packaged and branded Zobo drink.
Despite these obvious advantages, there is no established reputable Zobo brand in our supermarkets and Zobo drink is still not a world-class commercial product due to lack of innovation in packaging and branding. Still the best chance for one to drink a Zobo drink in Nigeria is either to make it at home or buy from the women who sells in used water-bottles.
Creating a world-class Zobo business
FIIRO has improved the shelf life of Zobo drink. They made Zobo drinks that can stay up to one-year on the self. They also train people on how to produce it. Despite this development, we still have not seen any world-class Zobo drink bottling business coming up yet.
There is a gap between Research institutions and the manufacturing industry in Nigeria. Most of the established companies in the food and beverages sector only manufacture established product using established processes from Europe, America and Asia. They are not interested in product R&D of new products or products that are not established.
The solution is for visionary entrepreneurs to fill the gap. A group of entrepreneurs should put their resources together and develop a world-class Zobo drink that can compete with Coke and Pepsi, and a world business that will attract capital ventures. I encourage entrepreneurs all over the country especially young entrepreneurs to bet their money on a zobo drink business. A world-class Zobo drink and business is long overdue. It is a goldmine waiting to be mined.
This articles was revised on January 10th, 2018.