Spanish manufacturer GB Foods, owner of the popular Gino, Bama and Jago brands, has opened its N20bn ($52m) tomato processing factory in Kebbi state, in the north of Nigeria. The new factory has been built in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the state government and is the second largest tomato processing plant in Nigeria.
Tomato paste is a key part of Nigerian cuisine, used sauces, stews, soups, sauces and rice dishes. Tomato consumption accounts for almost one fifth of Nigeria’s vegetable consumption. Nigeria is Africa’s second largest producer of fresh tomatoes, with an annual production of 2.3m tonnes in 2018. But up to 45% of production is lost to waste through the supply chain before it reaches the consumer through issues with overhandling, transport and storage. Most of Nigeria’s tomatoes are grown in the north but have to be transported to the population centres in the south of the country, leading to spoilage in transit.
Nigeria also consumes approximately 2.3m tonnes of tomatoes annually. Domestic production cannot meet demand and Nigeria imports up to $400m of tomatoes each year, using up vital foreign currency.
In March 2017, the Nigerian government banned the importation of tomato paste, powder or concentrate. It also increased tariffs on imports of tomato concentrate from 5% to 50% to help stimulate the domestic tomato sector. In March 2019, The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, announced that the government would place a final ban on the importation of tomato paste before the end of 2019.
One of the strongest proponents of the ban has been the Nigerian conglomerate the Dangote Group. In March 2016, it invested $20m in a tomato processing plant outside Kano, also in Nigeria’s north. That plant sourced tomatoes from 5,000 smallholding farmers and had the capacity to process 1,200 tonnes of tomato paste daily. However, it closed in 2017, only reopened in 2019 and became fully operational in February 2020. Similarly Nigerian manufacturer Erisco Foods opened a tomato paste plant in Lagos in February 2016, but closed it later that year due to a shortage of fx to import machine spare parts and raw materials.
The GB Foods Kebbi factory is vertically-integrated with the largest tomato farm in Nigeria, the only tomato processing plant in the ECOWAS bloc to be fully integrated. It will source most of the tomatoes from over 5,000 smallholder farmers as well as from GBfoods’ owned and operated farm. Additional farmland will be cleared and prepared in September 2020 for the farming season of October 2021, accompanied by an upgrade in the factory’s capacity. When the project expansion is completed, the factory will be the largest fresh tomato processing factory in sub-saharan Africa.
The plant will process tomatoes in the dry season and soya beans in the rainy season. Fresh tomatoes will be processed into tomato concentrate for the Gino tomato pasete and tomato pepper onion paste brands. Soya beans will be processed into soya bean oil, used in the Bama and Jago mayonnaise brands.
GB Foods set up a tomato processing plant in Kaduna state in 2019, which provides some of the learnings for the much large plant opened in Kebbi state. The N2bn ($5.2m) Kaduna plant has a capacity of just 30 tonnes per day, sourcing tomatoes from a 30 hectare pilot farm. Similarly, Singapore’s Olam International, another major importer of tomato paste, has set up 20 hectare pilot tomato farm in northern Kano and Jigawa states late last year to grow its own tomatoes.