Nigeria’s farmlands and factories aren’t producing enough to feed its population. There’s plenty of room in the agri-business industry for new entrants to play, but it’s not being filled quickly enough.
So we fill this supply gap with imports. Each year, several million tons of food products are shipped, driven, and flow into the country. Nigeria spends billions of naira on these goods. We fill our bellies with them and neglect our fledgling capacity to make our own food.
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In 2010, Mezuo and Ndidi Nwuneli decided to do something about this. They founded AACE Foods, a food processing company that would serve the local market and pull Nigeria towards becoming a net food exporter. Their focus was condiments, cooking ingredients that were still largely produced by small scale informal businesses.
In the decade since its founding, AACE Foods has swept up a big segment of its target market. The company has its powdered spices sitting on tens of thousands of kitchen shelves. Thanks to its pioneering role, there’s been a growth in the number of packaged condiment brands in Nigeria.
The company’s products include packaged bean flour, black, chili, and yellow pepper powders, ginger spice, curry powder, turmeric, and soy-maize powder. It also has fried rice, Jollof, and pepper soup spice mixes.
These branded items are made from products sourced from selected local farms. They are processed and packaged at the AACE Foods’ factory in Sango Ota, Ogun State, and distributed to major consumer hubs in nearby Lagos.
AACE also sells larger quantities of these products to institutional buyers (such as hospitality businesses) and exporters. Orders can be placed on its website.
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This brand owes its success to the skill and experience of its founders, both of whom have a background in corporate finance, business consulting, and agriculture. Before starting up AACE, Mezuo had worked with JP Morgan in the United States. Ndidi, his cofounder, had stints with McKinsey and the Ford Foundation. They both have MBAs from the Harvard Business School.
Besides running AACE, they also manage Sahel Capital, a private equity firm that has raised and invested millions of dollars in agribusinesses across Nigeria.
AACE also thrives on the success of its relationship with its farmer-partners. It sources its produce from over 10,000 farmers, many of whom have benefitted from its training, storage facilities, and micro-financing.
Persons who intend to be distributors for AACE’s products can begin their journey by applying on the company’s website.
The long-term plan for AACE Foods is that it becomes the prime food producer and distributor in West Africa. Given how it’s performing in the region’s most populous country, there’s a good chance that it’ll achieve its aim.
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