Food business in Nigeria: 8 actionable tips to success

Do you know according to the Nigerian National Bureau for statistic consumption report of 2019 states that, households consumed food worth N40.20 trillion consumption expenditure, representing 56.64% of money spent on food?

Well, that’s a lot of money spent on food.

This shows nearly every household undergoes shopping either online or offline for things they need, with the food business accounts for the majority of our shopping expenses.

It also shows that we have a population and definitely need food to eat.

In most busy workplaces or towns, the time to take and cook instead of resting after a hectic work schedule might be time-consuming.

To add salt to injury, not all the household can afford to hire a cook. This is one reason the food business in Nigeria is the next opportunity you need to look at.

The return on investment can be huge, there’s hardly any location without a fast food joint, food processing business, or booming food business.

As good and viable as this business can be, you’ll need to decide on what you need to invest your money.

Whichever food business you wish to do, you’ll need to look at your demographics first before you can make a conclusion on the type of food business you can do.

However, people see standard food business premises such as a restaurant as a highly expensive food business to start.

No wonder roadside food joints are springing up and becoming popular by the day.

Most of these roadside food businesses doesn’t have a procedural plan that indicates the time and sequence of each operation.

With a standard restaurants, they follow a schedule. This simply means they have time they operate for the day.

It’s probably because it’s the time they get most of the customers. Because in a food business, time is money.

Other things will then follow.

Try figuring out the time you can find more customers and try to take advantage of it.

Doing so will make you satisfy your customer need on an individual basis and food satisfaction, they’ll return.

For people working late you know it’ll be difficult to return home and begin to cook they’ll rather eat outside or have a take away as dinner.

But two things you’ll need to remember is time and flavor are of the essence if you want to grow and maintain your customers in your food business in Nigeria.

So whether you’re looking to start a buka, tea shop, processing industry, roadside food shop, restaurant, or food delivery, here are my 8 practical tips that can help.


  1. Look to satisfy customer need

Whether it’s a roadside or restaurant business your goal should be to satisfy your customer needs.

That should be the number reason for a business.

The daunting thing is trying to figure out. The more favorable period or time that attracts customers the most.

And here’s why.

We all know how challenging it can be to find customers especially when you’re starting.

Still, we know the first thing that attracts customers is the business premises. That’s how they know there’s a new food business in an area.

Yet it becomes complete when they feel you’re solving a problem

That difference can be your open door to customers. Because people know you’re serving what they need.

Truth be told that’s no guesswork or assumptions.

You’ll need to invest your time to know more about your customers.

The need for a feasibility study, scale-out a business plan, spend time listening, know how residents are buying food outside and the time they’re most active.

This will make you better understand your customers’ behavior and expected to response when the food business kicks off.

Just look at your food business as a game to succeed, you’ll need to have a game plan.

When you play and succeed, it’s a start but if it fails, you’ll have to change strategy.

You’ve to realize that failure in the initial game plan might be costly. As some might go forever. The few that can give you the benefit of the doubt it’s an opportunity you can bounce back.

That’s why the food business is more than just having a restaurant offering food. You’ll need a game plan.

So what’ll be your food business strategy that separates you from the crowd?

These strategies should form part of your goals in satisfying your customer’s need always.

Putting into account that each customer is unique and the saying “all customers are uniquely different is true”.

Before you go into the business properly, here are some things you need to do.

  1. What do your customers prefer to eat or can spend their last pay to buy from your business in your target location?
  2. What frame do they like buying
  3. What are the other things that they love to do or watch?

For instance, I know a restaurant that has a low customer base despite that location for a while and the advertisement in that location.

The owner after pondering on what to do decided to install a television and cable television and because to show European leagues, movies, and wrestling. This singular act started drawing customers to the restaurant and in no time, the once deserted restaurant began to see an increase in customers.

this gets to say that whoever works into the restaurant, will definitely spend a little cash to buy something.

  1. What class of people are in the area?

If they’re working class, you know they’ll definitely patronize your food business. If it’s surrounded by a business or office location, know that during work hours, your food business will boom with customers.

However, you’ll need to study the type of food they love, it may be rice and stew, wallow, or other local food.

By and large, there are things you cannot do and your customers need it while you prepare, you’ll need to learn how to do it before you kick start or you may need to hire someone to do it.

  1. Make a good first impression

The number one thing that draws your customers might be the location. But what will keep them is the first impression you make inside.

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In the food business, you aim to keep each customer that visits your shop, especially if they’re impulse customers.

Impulse customers are the ones that will come with so much expectation and if the expectation is not met, they’ll never return.

Why then make a good impression?

In the food business customer review is essential to bringing customers or sending them away and without customers, you’ll be out of business.

Remember you’re doing the business to solve a problem.

Making an impression is essential to your business. How can you create a great first impression for your food business?

Here are some essential ingredients:

  • The first thing first is on time. If you’re going to start serving food from 10:00 am every day, make your word count in action. Opening early is much better than opening late. Timing is one step where you begin to build trust with your prospective customers.


  • Secondly, be of good manners, attentive and polite are all behaviors that can help make a good first impression in your food business.


  • Thirdly serve decent food or products. There’s absolutely no excuse for serving food. The value of your business begins to depreciate when you don’t value its customers.
  • Fourthly, make the problem you’re solving more evident and your customers are benefiting by their patronage.
  1. Great location equals good sales

By now you know your customers need and how to make a good impression on your customers, you may be super excited and want to go live.

Yet you need to take your location seriously especially with how easy customers can find it and buy what you want to offer.

Even though the visibility and accessibility of the shop are great, your location should be in an area where people within your target location can patronize.

Case and point lets assume you’re going to start a restaurant food business that’ll serve traditional food where 90% of people around are foreigners, it means you have good food but for the wrong audience.

Another scenario is you have a shop in an area where most of the residents mostly cook, you’ll know that your chances of success will be slim.

In a nutshell, you should find a location where people can engage with your business whether it’s during the day or evening.

If your target area is mostly youth, you should focus on continental dishes mostly as only a few will love traditional food. Rice, bread, beans, and instant noodles are there favorite.

When it’s a roadside food business, you should look for a junction where it’s accessible for a higher consumption rate.

However, you must make takeaway packs for customers who wish to go to work or home with it.

  1. Provide a stable food

Don’t get me wrong but the food business will not work if the food you provide is not popular for the people.

Like any society or community, stable foods are food desired by many in that area. Without that stable food, you risk not getting customer engagement the way you desire.

For example, a roadside food business offers traditional food of people from the southern part of the country and the majority of people in that location are people from the north. To crown it all they don’t offer any stable (like rice and beans).

That has kept the business from thriving and has increased its waste daily.

Stable food is the common food that will serve as a desired option or plan B when the desired option is not available.

However, just because it’s a stable food, it does not mean its desired by all ages. What young guys will desire is not what middle age will desire. There should be a balance if you want to get customers from both the age bracket.

So your job here is to find out the age group that’s dominate to provide more for them and minimize waste.

For example, let’s assume 70% of people in your location are young people, you’ll need to have more food for the young as chances of engagement will be from that age group.

You’ll want to ensure what they need is always available.

When you figure all that, you’re on your way to winning the heart of your customer, in a way you’ve never thought.

  1. Use customer feedback to improve

We know the business is your own. You’ve planned it and it’s moving smoothly. like any other business there may be cracks in the wall that you may not have seen because of your current success.

You can use your customer to show you.

According to Bill Gates, “success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”.

This simply means your success can become your obstacle and gradually become obsolete if you relax. However, you can always be a step ahead by using your customer experience using customer feedback.

The good part is all that can be done at no extra cost by allowing your customer to review your journey by giving you feedback.

This feedback can be considered actionable tips that can improve your business operations and meet your customer need.

For instance, if you’re into food processing and packaging, you’ll want to know the insight into how they feel on how the product is meeting their need and what needs to be done to improve an existing business.

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Your primary aim here is to look for loopholes that can improve the business.

Irrespective of the outcome, you’ll get an idea of how customers are engaging with your product.

Others may argue you don’t need feedback, just hire experts they’ll tell you what to do.

Experts are great but can be pretty expensive to hire especially when you’re starting. Besides, even the experts will need feedback to work.

In my opinion, you can do a customer from time to time to understand the mind of your customers and you have enough money, you can hire an expert.

And remember even the top 100 most valuable companies use customer feedback so why can’t you?

I know you still want to know why feedback is important?

Well, you have to realize that the food business is not an exclusive business, this simply means every day more business in the food industry is created and with more people doing the same thing means more competition will continue to increase leaving customers with more choices.

This makes success in the food business slim. That’s why customer feedback will help you to:

  1. Put proper planning in addition to good products, processing or meal with your customer in mind
  2. Increases your listening which will increase your opportunities
  3. Discover new meal to be added to the menu
  4. There will be continues improvement
  5. You’ll respond to innovation easily and quick
  6. Build a long-lasting relationship with the customer
  7. You’ll make your customer believe in your project

By and large customer feedback can give you the uniqueness that drives customers because you’re ahead of the competition.

  1. Target multiple audience

If you’re thinking of growing and sustaining your food business, you’ll need to target multiple audience.

When you look at the big food business, their marketing plan is organized to suit many customers with different goals.

These companies understand that the taste for teenagers is different from that of 60 years old. That explains why their marketing is done to suit their business goals.

When you know all that, you’ll know what product or meal is a good fit for your target audience.

I remember recently an ad by Friesland food owners of peak milk where they featured different types of milk. One is meant to serve the young, while the other is meant to serve the old.

From the ad, they’ve targeted a group of people that can engage with their product.

This can be replicated if you’re running a restaurant, mama put, or any eating joint. You can have food for people who because of their health challenges are restricted from eating other types of food.

Each of the products has specific nutrient needs for the individual’s age and if it’s food, according to their health conditions. That’s what is the difference.

But if they only targeted only one group, the food company will be missing the other age group engagement with their product.

In another scenario, you need to ensure your product or meal is affordable irrespective of the customer’s financial capability.

For example, when you look at food and beverage businesses, most of their product comes in different sizes. Some in smaller, medium, and large packages. The reason for that is that many customers can afford to use your product therefore you can have more sales, irrespective of the customer’s financial buoyancy.

However, you cannot do that without having a customer profile which can tell you who’s the dominant age and their need based on their feedback.

  1. Work according to your mission statement

You’re in food industry, that means you’re in a competitive industry and means you’re on a mission.

Your mission statement should define the food business, reflect the feeling and happiness you’re going to bring to your customers.

Why do you ask?

Because it explains to your customer what you do and why you’re doing it. It should not belong but let it be attention grabbling.

And it’s not only meant for your customer but also for you ask a reminder to focus on keeping your business fresh, unique, and above the competition.

Below are some of the examples of a mission statement from some of the popular food businesses:

“root down aims to connect neigbourhood to a dining experience in the same way ingredients are connected to food”

“enhance and educate the palate with the freshest ingredients and flavors, while surprising and exciting each other guest with personal care service”

“from sprout to plate, we’re all about offering smart, healthy, on the go people, smart, healthy on the go food”

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit-one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”

The above mission statement should guy you as you make your way into the food business.

  1. Some food businesses in Nigeria

One may ask after reading all that what some of the lucrative food businesses in the country are.

If that’s what’s on your mind, then you’re right.

Below are some you may consider if you want to do food business:

  • Mama put business
  • Raw food business
  • Catering business
  • Food delivery business
  • Roadside food business
  • Canteen business
  • Fast food business
  • Food processing
  • Restaurant business
  • Suya joint
  • Indomie joint
  • Snack shop
  • Raw food vendor
  • Raw food business supply
  • Pepper soup joint

What others do you want to add to the list? Well, the comment session is available for you to add.


The food business in Nigeria will continue to grow the more increase in the population. So if you’re looking for a viable and profitable business you want to start, consider trying food business.

The question is what type of food business in Nigeria do you want to do?





Bako Yila

Bako Yila is an entrepreneur and loves working with aspiring entrepreneurs the right way. His blog offers business idea and resources to build a successful business.

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