Kuli-kuli is a popular snack in Nigeria, Benin, northern Cameroon, Ghana and southern Niger. It is primarily made from groundnut: groundnuts are roasted and then milled into a paste. The paste is stripped of oil and made into the desired shape. It is then fried with the oil removed in the process until it hardens.
Kuli-kuli is seen as a by-product of groundnut oil production and most of the kuli-kuli in the market are made mainly by elderly women manually. Young people shy away from the business because the process of making it is still not mechanized. Presently, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) is changing this. The organisation has designed a mechanized production process and machines for Kuli-kuli production.
How kuli-kuli is sold in the market
The next downside in Kuli-kuli business is poor packaging and branding. Poor packaging and branding have always been an issue in local foods and drinks businesses in West Africa. Most of the kuli-kuli in the market are sold without any form of packaging or branding. They are exposed to air and everything around. With a huge market opportunity of about 243 million potential customers, anyone would expect more investment in this snack.
Some Commendable Improvements in Kuli-kuli Packaging
Unlike most local African food, kuli-kuli has a long shelf life even without preservative. This makes it easy to pack. Some young entrepreneurs are making commendable efforts to add value to the kuli-kuli in the market by making them more presentable. They package the kuli-kuli in transparent sachets or plastic cans and add their brand names. This is an improvement and their products are far better than what we regularly see in the markets. With these level of packaging, some modern stores and supermarkets may consider having these products on their shelves.
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How kuli-kuli should be sold
To have a world-class product and to have a brand of kuli-kuli that can be sold in supermarkets across Africa, the kuli-kuli in our markets must be improved. There needs to be an improvement in its smell, taste and presentation. It has to have a standard packaging that will also improve its shelf life.
In my opinion, first, Kuli-kuli should not be produced as a by-product of oil but instead should be the main product of the production process. Kuli-kuli should be made to look like a biscuit. It should be neatly and finely shaped (flat and round). It should be flavoured and sweetened. Kuli-kuli should be packaged in small, shiny and colourful sachets just like biscuits. It should be sold also in small packs for affordability. I believe any entrepreneur with a sound business model and kuli-kuli product with these improvements can dominate the West African market.