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Did You Know? The Top Selling Food Items in Nigeria

Nigerian households spent a total of ₦41 trillion on food in 2019. That’s according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s chief data collection agency.

The document, titled National Consumption Expenditure Pattern in Nigeria, presents a breakdown of Nigeria’s spending on various products and services. It’s based on a survey of several thousand households spread across the 774 local government areas of the country.

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Among other things, this report gives an insight into what kind of food products Nigerians are buying. If you’re considering going into the food business, you should find this sort of information useful.

We lay out some of the details here– the top selling food products, how much is being spent on them, and where the biggest markets are for these items.

Top Selling Food Items

Starchy Roots and Tubers

Food products like garri, cassava, and yam top the food shopping list for Nigerian households. The country’s inhabitants purchased ₦2.53 trillion on these items in 2019. As expected, people in rural areas were spending more on these kinds of foods (12% of their food expenditure) compared to urban dwellers (9%).


Nigerians spent about ₦1.98 trillion on rice in 2019. This much-loved staple is consumed all over the country and features in many different dishes. It tends to feature higher up on the menus of northern households (compared to southern culinary preferences), as the NBS report shows.


Vegetables like tomatoes, pepper, onions, and okra are a big part of our meals. That’s why we spent ₦1.76 trillion on them last year. People in the southeastern states devote the greatest percentage of their food expenditure to vegetables (9.6% and 8.6% for people in Abia and Ebonyi respectively).

Fish and Sea Food

Nigerians bought ₦1.33 trillion worth of fish, lobsters, crabs, and prawns in 2019. Not surprisingly, the South-South has the most eager consumers of these products; they’re willing to cut back on vegetables and grains just to spend 10.7% of their food budget on seafood.

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Grains and Flour

Grains like millet and sorghum are a big part of traditional food preparations in many parts of the north. This popularity helps sustain demand for the products. Along with wheat, yam, and cassava flour, these products may have brought in ₦1.28 trillion for the traders who sell them.

A Few Interesting Facts

On average, Nigerians are now devoting a slightly lesser fraction of their expenditure to food than they did ten years ago. Food expenditure has fallen in percentage terms from 60.2% in 2009/2010 to 56.65% in 2019. But total actual spending on food has almost doubled, from ₦21.6 trillion in 2009 to ₦40.2 trillion in 2019. This is partly due to population growth.

The South West accounts for 27.47% of Nigeria’s food expenditure. A huge fraction of this is contributed by Lagos. The North East (excluding Borno State) accounts for less than 7%.

Of the total amount spent by Lagosians on food, one third goes to buying edibles outside of their homes. They also seem to be the most enthusiastic about baked and processed foods, purchasing ₦157 billion worth of such items within a single year.

Lagos is also the only state in Nigeria in which households’ non-food expenditure exceeds food expenditure. This usually happens with economies that are emerging from a subsistence level and are beginning to industrialize.


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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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