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How to Start Food Exportation Business in Nigeria

Explore how to start food exportation business in Nigeria. We have covered in detailed steps to take to start food exportation business in Nigeria. We also included the list food items to export from Nigeria. And finally, ways to get agents to distribute your food items overseas.

how to start food exportation business in nigeria
Food Items to Export

Food exportation is the sale of raw foods like cash crops or its processed products to other countries. Food exportation business in Nigeria is a lucrative business. Just like any other exportation business, it will allow you to earn money in dollars, euro or pounds at the prevailing exchange rate.

Nigeria is a country blessed with fertile land that can help cash crops to grow well. So, there is always food and food products available in Nigeria you can export to other country.

Interestingly, the rate of migration of Nigerians to foreign countries is on the rise since 2021. So, there are many Nigerians overseas who need these food items. This has necessitated the search for agents that can engage in food exportation business. As a result of this, if you venture into food exportation business you’ll be making millions of naira within few months. At the same time, you help increase the foreign reserve and Gross Domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria.

Without wasting time, let’s dive into how to Start food exportation business in Nigeria. After which, we will talk about list of food items you can export from Nigeria to other countries. And then, ways to get agents to distribute your food items overseas.

Read: 5 Things to Export from Nigeria to make millions of dollars in less than 3 months

Here are simple steps to follow to start a food exportation business in Nigeria. if you judiciously follow these steps, you definitely succeed in food exportation.

How to Start Food Exportation Business in Nigeria

1.     Acquire adequate knowledge of food exportation

Before you start a food exportation business, first get adequate knowledge of food exportation business. Having an in-depth understanding will help you achieve success in food exportation business.

You must first know the various steps to take, how food exportation is done, the benefits as well as the challenges involved in food exportation.

Research which shipping companies are reliable and price friendly. Also, find out how long your goods stay before they are delivered. This knowledge will help you plan your business right.

2.     Develop a detailed business plan

Next step to follow is to develop detailed business plan. It is expedient that you should have a detailed business plan  for your exportation business. The lack of a business plan will place your business at risk.

A business plan is used to draft out the future of a business, its objectives, and strategies for achieving those objectives. Therefore a business plan is the life-wire of your business. You’ll need a business plan to fall-back on when you lost track in your business.

From the knowledge you have gathered over time about the food exportation business, you should go ahead and develop your business plan.

3.     Make thorough market research

Food exportation business is vast but interesting, but it requires you to give it your best. Since you’ve resolved to go for it, just give it your time.

In food exportation business, your customers expect the food items you deliver to be top-notch and from the best market. Search for a market where those food items are dominant to buy from or you liaise with farmers who cultivate them directly.

For instance, you can partner with a farmer who cultivates pepper and tomatoes to get freshly harvested tomatoes for your customers. Wash, blend and cook till they dry before packaging them as a paste in a container.

For seafood, partner with fishermen or distributors of fresh seafood to get them so you can dry and package them for your customer.

4.     Register your business

Several times people had to change their existing business name after building and branding the business. It wasn’t that they wished but as a result of an already registered business with the same name.

To save you stress from the start, it is important to register your business before the business commences. This will give you the opportunity to deal with foreign companies and businesses.

5.     Have a nice packaging

You need to have a nice packaging of the food items you export.  This will encourage your existing customers to refer new customers to you.

Always package all the dried and powdered food items in tight zip-lock bags. You can also use masking tape at the tip of the bag to prevent air from entering. Package food items in paste form in air-tight containers. Make sure to identify each item using tape and marker to write names on them.

If you have business-branded bags with your logo, use them but ensure they are neatly packed.

6.     Set your price

It is advisable to set your prices only after you get your cost price and delivery charges. It will help you calculate your profit. It will not be  wise setting the price for the food product when you’ve not make proper calculation.

You can also research the prices other food exporter charges before setting your price. This idea will help you fix your price within the range of other food exporters.

7.     Find buyers/customers

The next step is to locate your buyers. This is apex of exportation business. If your business have an online presence, it is a lot easier finding buyers.  Let the world know about your business by building an online presence and you will get customers. You can scan for buyers through:

  • social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc
  • Forum
  • creating websites
  • etc

8.     Search for cargo companies

Finally, search for cargo companies that will be in charge of the exportation. Several cargo companies in Nigeria are into food exportation to other countries. Make some research about those companies and their charges. Find out how their delivery system works.

There are some documents required in food exportation business. These documents include a certificate of origin, insurance certificate, shipping bills, certificate of inspection, export license, commercial receipts, and packing lists.

List of Food Items You Can Export from Nigeria

Below is the list of food items that you can export to other countries;

#1. Cocoa Seeds

Nigeria is currently the fourth-largest country that produces cocoa and the third-largest exporter. It is one of the major agricultural products that Nigeria exports. Cocoa is a commercial agricultural product in Nigeria. It is a great source of iron, zinc, and magnesium and can be processed into beverages.

It is majorly produced in States like Ondo, Cross Rivers, Oyo, Osun, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Delta, Ekiti, Edo, and Kogi.

You can export cocoa to countries in the European and North American continents where there are higher demands for them.

#2. Dried Cow Skin and Seafood

You can focus on exporting dried cow skin and seafood to Nigerians in the diaspora. Nigerians who manage African restaurants and also Nigerian households should be your target.

Search for the best market to get nice cow skin, fresh periwinkle, fish, shrimps, crayfish, or crabs. Buy in large quantities, and wash carefully till they are clean.

Dry all of them very well to preserve them, you can’t export fresh or frozen foods. This is a result of the length of days these goods spend in transit and may spoil before delivery. Nigerians are now migrating to every continent therefore, you can get customers from any part of the world.

#3. Dried Spices

Spices can range from pepper soup spices to soup spices. You can deal in spices for local soup delicacies to Nigerians who are overseas.

You can also add local soup additives such as coco-yam powder, achi, ofor, ogbono, egusi, yam powder, and so on. There are vegetables you can include in your exportation lists like ugwu, waterleaf, spinach, curry leaf, okazi, utazi, oziza, and so on.

You should dry the leaves, and wrap them up in a newspaper, you can also wash and slice them. Store in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate to also preserve them.

#4. Grounded Chilies

In your food exportation business, you can decide to include chilly, and bell peppers as well as tomatoes. To get the grinded chilly, buy the peppers, wash and dry them. Make sure they are dried so well before proceeding to grind them into powder.

For the tomatoes, it is best to make them into a paste. After washing your fresh tomatoes, blend them and boil them till the water dries up.

You should package your grinded chilies and bell pepper in a zip-lock bag. The tomatoes should be stored in an air-tight container for preservation. You can also add African black pepper to the list.

Getting customers for these food items is not limited to only Nigerians in the diaspora.

#5. Cooking Spices

Cooking spices are flavours with an aroma that are gotten from seeds, tree bark, and fruits to make your food delicious. Cooking spices are not just important for their natural flavouring and taste but also has health benefits.

Natural cooking spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry, thyme, onions, African nutmeg, negro pepper, should be dried up and grinded before packaging.

Locust beans (iru/dawadawa) and ogiri (fermented melon seed) should be dried before packaging too.

European countries like The United Kingdom are the main importer of spices such as ginger. You can get your customers from there.

#6. Cashew and Peanuts

Cashew nuts and peanuts (ground nuts) are mostly used as snacks by people. And they are rich in proteins, fats, and minerals. Nuts can also serve as ingredients you can add to your food as they have high nutritional value that is beneficial to health.

Packaging cashew and peanuts are easy, all you need to do is store them in an air-tight container.

You can get customers for cashew nuts exportation from India, but ensure to target other countries too

#7. Root and Tuber Crops

Yam and cassava are the main root and tuber crops that can be exported in Nigeria. They are crops produced in tropical regions and exported to other developed nations.

Cassava is a multi-purpose crop that can be processed into foods like Garri and fufu. Africans, especially Nigerians, are major consumers of these foods.

European countries that have histories with African regions are feasible markets for roots and tuber crops as Africans are dominant in such countries.

#8. Dried Breadfruit

Currently, the production of breadfruit in Nigeria is low as some regions are not so actively involved in its production. The seeds of breadfruits are popular among the eastern region of Nigeria (the Igbos). The seeds are selected and cooked as a porridge delicacy in the southeastern region of Nigeria.

Breadfruit is also produced in States like Delta, Edo, and Oyo states. It is called ukwa in the eastern region, afon in the western region, and bafafuta in the northern region. As a result of its unpopular nature among Nigerians, breadfruit is a relatively untapped market in food exportation business.

You can target countries like the USA, China, Germany, France, and Canada.

#9. Plantain Flour

Plantain flour is extracted from dried sliced plantain. To extract it, slice unripe plantain into smaller pieces, dry them, and blend.

Plantain flour is rich in iron, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C and is unique from other kinds of flour. It has a lower quantity of calories. It’s a healthier alternative to wheat flour and is good for diabetic patients.

Plantain flour can be used to make pancakes, doughnuts, chips, cakes, and so on. Some people prefer it to all-purpose flour and are ready to order as much as possible. The interesting aspect is that plantain flour is not limited to Africans in the diaspora. That means, your target customers are not limited when you export plantain flour.

#10. Yam Flour

Yam flour is a powdered starch made from yam and processed into poundo, elubo, and amala. It is rich in zinc, iron, copper, fiber, and magnesium.

Like plantain flour, yam flour also passes through the same process of production. You extract your yam flour from dried sliced yam. Yam flour can be converted into amala, a food popular in the southwestern region of Nigeria. Amala is gotten by boiling the yam flour in hot water and making it into the dough to be eaten with vegetables, egusi, or bean soup.

You can target your customers in countries where the Yoruba are populated.

Read also: How to Start a Foodstuff Business in Nigeria

Ways to Get Agents to Distribute your Food Items Overseas

The search for customers must be very paramount to you. Place your business in such a way that your customers will always return to do more business with you.

You can get customers from social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Just create a business page on these social media platforms. You can also create training classes and workshops, teaching about food exportation.

You can also start webinars and seminars online. You can decide to start a YouTube channel also, making people know about food exportation business.

Another effective way to get customers is through referrals. Most referral works when customers have been able to trust you. Customers can only trust you when you deliver what they expect and keep your part of the deal.

Read: 30 Hot Selling Products to Import in Nigeria and make profit


In conclusion, food exportation business in Nigeria is an easy to start business.  And you can make huge profit exporting food items. To start food exportation in Nigeria, you need to acquire knowledge of food exportation, draft a detailed plan, and carryout a market research, register your business name, find buyers, and set your price and Search for Cargo Companies.

As an exporter of food items, your major concern should be on how to package these food items neatly and brand your business.

Starting a business requires determination and perseverance, food exportation business isn’t an exemption. You don’t have to quit at the first trial. You can seek more information from Nigeria food exporting company like Fecofoods and others before you get started.


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