Government Plays Critical Role In Supporting Food Industry – Jaiyeola

Government Plays Critical Role In Supporting Food Industry – Jaiyeola

6/22/2021 9:08:00 AM

Government Plays Critical Role In Supporting Food Industry – Jaiyeola

How did the pandemic affect the business and operations of the company? The pandemic had a significant impact on our business. Both our local and foreign

We implemented a wide range of protocols across all our manufacturing locations to prevent the occurrence and spread of the virus and thankfully, we did not have to shut down any of our locations due to the outbreak. The peculiarity of the period enabled us to deepen our customer relationships which enhanced our ability to sell and offer competitive trade terms. We pioneered new ways of selling and developed relationships with new customers all over the country across the traditional and modern trades.

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ADVERTISEMENTThis and many other strategic initiatives implemented led to a high single digit volume growth overall year-on-year. Our consumer brands delivered a strong performance on the back of 40 per cent plus growth in pasta and double-digit growth in the Ball Foods category. The pasta performance was driven by increased capacity at the Sagamu Pasta factory.

 Some of your raw materials are sourced from overseas, how is the company coping with sourcing foreign exchange?We explored partnership opportunities with as many financial institutions capable of establishing LCs (Letters of Credit) for the company and took advantage of non-deliverable forwards. We also leveraged our long-term relationships with our key foreign suppliers to relax their existing trade terms. This period also created a need to rethink and review the local wheat value chain development.

Our major raw material, wheat is currently imported, however, as an industry, the Flour Mills Association of Nigeria (FMAN) has worked closely with the CBN and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to support further development of the wheat value chain in Nigeria – improving the ability of wheat growers to develop their capacity to deliver improved wheat varieties, cultivation techniques and provision of harvesting materials. More than ever, Government’s support is needed in developing the local wheat industry.

 What challenges do you face that the government needs to address for companies like yours to remain in business?The food and milling industry in Nigeria is a promising sector with opportunities to expand into other markets beyond Nigeria. However, the high cost of Nigerian processed food products occasioned by high input costs and other conversion costs such as power continue to negatively impact profitability, and limit investments in the sector. A general improvement in infrastructure, such as power and transportation, will go a long way in driving growth within the sector.

Today, affordability and availability of basic foodstuffs is an uppermost consideration in the minds of many Nigerians. Our government has a critical role to support the food industry so we can honour our responsibilities to supply food to all parts of the nation. This can be done by ensuring sustainable infrastructure for logistics and reliable security across the country.

There is also a need to harmonise multiple regulators (SON, NAFDAC, Federal and State Agencies for Environment, Health and Safety, Consumer Protection Council, Ministries of Trade, etc.) that are currently operating across the manufacturing sector. This will enhance the ease of doing business with a far-reaching impact on the economy.

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Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find properly skilled workers in the manufacturing sector as our education system is not creating work-ready graduates, leading to a need for employers to make significant investments for entry level roles. Also, there is a need to focus attention on technical education and the development of technical workforce as there is a dearth of the required skills to support maintenance efforts within the manufacturing sector.

Lastly, the food industry in Nigeria is a critical industry as it provides one of the most essential services in maintaining social cohesion, particularly as the trend for urbanisation takes large numbers of people into cities and away from basic agriculture. The food industry has built considerable expertise and capability to serve the nation with consistent supplies and reliable quality foods.

Government needs to act as an enabler for this huge enterprise – encouraging further investment in both capacity, process technology and efficiency projects so that the industry’s growth will match that of the growing population. What new project is the company involved in, in terms of expansion and R&D; and how is the capital for these projects being raised?

The next phase of our development is to be at the forefront of the carbohydrate industry, providing affordable, nutritious foods to our fast-growing population.Huge strategic opportunity exists for us in the development and commercialization of modern formats of indigenous carbohydrates, and we have commenced the development of an exciting opportunity in the indigenous tubers category that will significantly broaden our business base and serve as a source to generate foreign exchange through export.

In addition, we have identified agricultural commodities that can be aggregated locally for export.We are currently ramping up our capabilities to efficiently source and aggregate such commodities. Capital for the execution of these projects will be a mix of debt and equity.

plans to access short to medium term notes for the execution of some of our identified projects. How is the company boosting investor confidence at this time? What should they expect in the next final year?Our overarching objective is to grow shareholder value in the medium to long term through consistent return to shareholders, consistent business growth, and consistently improving efficiency. This will underwrite future investment requirements. Our performance in the last financial year demonstrated our capacity for growth at both top and bottom lines, despite the challenging environment. We will continue to implement these successful strategies aimed at driving operational and financial performance in order to create significant shareholder value.

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 What are company’s medium and long term goals?In the medium term, we are pursuing category expansion plans based on commercialization of locally available raw materials for food production. Read more: LEADERSHIP Newspaper »

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