'This could be more exciting than China'
Irish companies signed deals worth millions on last week's trade mission to Nigeria
Published 09/12/2015 | 02:30
'I think this might be even more exciting than China right now."
These were the words of Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, following a series of meetings in Lagos last week that saw Irish firms sign up business worth E50m in a single day.
Granted, much of that total was not food sales, but Irish food companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of the massive potential in Africa's largest economy.
Not only is Nigeria growing fast, it is also relatively close, with shipping times almost half the eight to 10 weeks required to get product to China.
Ornua is leading the charge, with phenomenal growth projected for its little 20g sachets of full cream milk powder.
From sales of just 90t two years ago, volumes have grown more than 16-fold, and are projected to quadruple again in the next five years.
Remarkably, if Irish powder sales do reach 6,000t, it will still only represent 6pc of the total market. In addition, this is just one west African country, albeit the biggest, but it gives a sense of the scale of the potential demand out there.
However, there are serious drawbacks, not least the fact that Nigeria has a ban on all imported beef at the moment.