Food processing is the preparation of food items from one or several individual ingredients to produce an edible food that is either eaten directly like fried cashew nut or added to cooked meals like ketchup. After which it is sold to consumers both locally and abroad. There are so many different food products that need to be processed you can choose from. Some examples include baking bread, making chocolate, making fruit juice, manufacturing of ice block and the list goes on.
The processing of the food items is usually done by machines, some of which are deep fryers, some cutters, some crushers and grinders. It depends on the kind of food item you wish to introduce to the market.
To begin, you have to understand thoroughly the business landscape of whichever food processing faction you chose. You have to formulate a kind of timetable; where you mark the time your ingredients will be arriving. The time it will take you to prepare/process it, and the time it will hit the shelves. Because, delivery to consumers must not stop by any means or else the business will lose its credibility.
Major Types of Processed Food Products
- Oil products – e.g. coconut oil, palm oil.
- Liquid products – e.g. fruit drinks, processed milk.
- Baked foods
- Fried foods – e.g. potato chips, plantain chips, etc.
- Powdered foods – e.g. flour, spices.
- Snack foods – e.g. popcorn, chocolate, cashew nut.
- Meat products
- Fast food products.
Categorization of Food Processing Businesses
As an industrial business, it could be categorized into three;
- Small Scale: Some food items could be processed easily like boiled groundnut, snacks etc. It doesn’t require much ingredients and doesn’t take much time and effort either. Note that the food processing businesses you could do small scale, their ingredients are readily available. It doesn’t need heavy machinery and it is easily sold to consumers. Some good examples are the zobo drink, Moi moi, and Akara.
- Medium Scale: Food items that cannot be processed simply by stirring, frying or boiling in a big pot are considered to be medium scale. This is something the normal kitchen setting cannot handle, where the food item is not easily processed and it might need some serious machines. An example is the ice cream production business. A food item you could do small scale like the zobo we mentioned can be done at a medium scale by catapulting it business-wise to having things like better packaging and increase in production quantity. You provide for a large consumer audience, perhaps by selling to supermarkets and the like.
- Large Scale: To really process a food item that would be enough for export which must meet international food standards, you have to opt for a large scale production of the food item. More complicated food mixtures are usually done large scale.
If all requirements are met, registration with NAFDAC takes up to three months. You should adhere STRICTLY to the rules of the food and drugs regulatory body, depending on the food product and the scale at which it is produced the rules may vary.
The essentials are: Your food product should have an expiry date/best before date, the place you prepare the product should be hygienic and will have to pass NAFDAC tests. And food items to be used must not be spoilt or contaminated.
Supply of Food Products
Most of the products can be supplied from local markets, but in medium or large scale production it usually has to come directly from a farmer. In some cases you have to arrange with several farmers to get the exact amount you want, one farmer may not be able to meet the demand.
Schedule the arrival of the supply to be in sync with the whole production process, so that a situation where production is stopped due to waiting for supplies to arrive could be avoided.
List of Required Items
Generally, all the food processing businesses share a common list in terms of what they need for the business.
|Machines and equipment||They include grinders, boilers, deep fryers, cutters, mixers and so on. Some may require serious expertise before being operated.|
|Food items||This is the food that is being processed and the ingredients that go with it.|
|Staff||Hire some people to help you handle the work especially someone with previous experience in that line of work.|
|Processing plant||This is in the case of large scale processing. Where the food product is being processed.|
|Packaging||The food product usually determine what kind of packaging suits it best, some are best packed in cartons while in others nylon bags are fine.|
Distribution And Exportation
First when your product is finished, give it a test run through a few people and wait for feedback. If it tastes great you are good and if there is something you should add or subtract then you must continue to tweak it until it is perfected before you consider the food product ready for market.
You can distribute locally to shops and plazas around you, by talking directly to shop owners. Or pay a distribution company that specialize in distributing food products. Exporting used to be a big deal, but now with the internet you can easily advertise your product free in wholesale websites and connect with buyers from all over the world. When they pay, you ship to their location.
Although you still have to abide by export regulations and acquire an export license for your goods leaving the country and pay the required tax, and also know the food regulation practices of the country so that your goods don’t end up being confiscated. The food processing business and its exportation is very profitable, since we can’t stop eating food, can we?