Over the years, social events in Nigeria have become bigger than they were about 30 years ago. With the increasing number of seminars, conferences, weddings and other events that take place every week, it is easy to see why several businesses like event planning, post-event cleaning, professional decorating, makeup artists, cocktail mixing, catering services, etc., have sprouted from them.
For caterers, the main courses are not the only meals to be focused on; they also provide snacks to entertain guests with, before the actual meals are served. In fact, there are events where the caterers for the main dishes are different from those in charge of snacks. Interestingly, snacks served at these events have also ‘scaled’ considerably.
In the past, snacks such as meat pies, puff-puff, and buns were the snacks of choice for most events. But recently, these snacks seem to be gradually disappearing from tables at various events.
This week on product review, we examine how new snack entrants, finger foods like, small chops, shawarma, jam-filled doughnuts, just to mention a few, are knocking out the ‘legendary’ meat pie from tables in the country.
Value Proposition of various snacks
Demand for snacks in Nigeria is growing daily, with consumers seeking healthier and more convenient alternatives to junk snacks. Studies have also shown that snacks can be used to improve the dietary intakes of consumers by incorporating nutrients such as protein and fiber from plant sources which have health benefits.
In Nigeria, there is a wide range of indigenous snacks such as plantain chips, KuliKuli, Kilishi, ChinChin, and so on that are not only tasty but also healthy. They are however confined to street corners as local snack options. Also, Potato chips, sausage rolls, and foreign generic cookies are few of the many snacks hawked majorly in traffic. These snacks drive sales that are huge enough for franchises to be bought to make the foreign snacks more readily available locally.
On the other hand, indigenous snacks are not as popular outside the shores of the country, causing a large imbalance in the export/import flow.
The arrival of Finger Foods
The arrival of finger foods is increasingly challenging the popularity of other popular snacks. Hardly would you attend any party where fingers foods, popularly called small chops, won’t be served.
Aside from big events like weddings, funerals, christenings and birthday parties, small chops have also become the preferred choice when having get-together, seminars, and other events. Some nightclubs and bars also serve small chops to their patrons. Asides being on offer at parties, many individuals and companies now order them at home or the office, either for celebrations or private consumption.
The small chops usually come in small packs with varieties of snacks such as spring rolls, samosa, fish finger, fish in batter, chicken in batter, mosa, puff-puff, meat balls, peppered snails, peppered steaks, beef pockets, gizdodo, prawns in batter, etc.
Although other snack varieties such as doughnuts are still in high demand, especially with the introduction of the jam-filled varieties into the market, small chops are giving them a fight for the table.
Also, another snack recipe that is gaining acceptability in the snacks market is shawarma. Which has its origin from the Middle-East where thin cuts of lamb, chicken, turkey, beef and mixed meats are stacked in a cone-shaped dough.
Popular traditional snacks like puff-puff and buns are still widely patronized by low and middle-income earners, as they come at pocket-friendly prices.
What consumers say
According to a caterer, Ms. Odinaka, the demand for meat-pie by clients has reduced considerably. She revealed that for weddings, most people now prefer small chops and grilled goat meat, popularly called Asun, as snacks for their events.
Nairametrics also observed that price is a major factor which affects the demand for meat pie by consumers. The average price for roadside meat pies goes for N250, and many consumers complained that most of them usually lack meat filling and do not justify the price. The meat pies sold in some fast food outlets cost higher, between N450-N500, though they offer better products as they still have more meat filling.
A small pack of small chops goes for N500, while the bigger pack goes for N1000; a small pack of Asun goes for N500 and the prices of doughnuts and egg-rolls range between N50-N150.
Sarah, a cook in one of the high-brow fast food outlets in Opebi, was of the opinion that there is no significant drop in the number of sales of meat pies compared to other snacks.
Nairametrics also noticed that millennials prefer small chops and shawarma, compared to the older generation who still prefer meat pies as their snacks of choice.
While the price of meat pie is still affordable, many prefer small packs of small chops where they can have varieties of snacks in one pack, as against one meat pie with little or no meat filling.
A visit to the premises of a Pentecostal church around Oregun on Sunday showed that people patronised the small chops, Asun and Shawarma outlets, while meat pie was hardly seen on display.
In a poll by Nairametrics on our social media platforms, 39% voted for small chops as the snacks of their choice, 26% voted for the legendary meat pie, shawarma got 29%, while doughnuts got a meagre 6%.
Which of these snacks overtakes Meat Pie as the King of fast food snacks in Nigeria?
— Nairametrics (@Nairametrics) August 13, 2018
Apparently, meat pie, like every other ‘old school’ item, has lost its position as the go-to snack for events, due to the entrance of more exotic options. While it would be difficult to totally kick out the legendary meat pie, shawarma and small chops have proven to be competent challengers. Perhaps they might all come to a compromise and have equals shares at events tables.