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The Cost Of Cooking This Christmas

It’s the holidays, and nothing captures the festive spirit quite like food. I mean, isn’t it common knowledge that meals taste better during the holidays? This time, however, there is going to be an extra ingredient in your neighbour’s famed jollof rice: inflation.

How much is it costing people to cook this holiday? We asked five professional food businesses, and they had a lot to get off their chest. 

Old Mango Chow – We rather increase the price of our food than reduce the quality

Old Mango Chow is an online restaurant that has been in business for a year and seven months. With an average stock-up budget of ₦20,000 to ₦25,000 per week (depending on orders received), they’ve managed to maintain a diverse menu. Their recent visits to the market have been quite surprising, especially because of the cost of chicken. “Earlier this year I could get a kilo of chicken for ₦1400, but now a kilo is ₦2000,” their rep said. 

Chicken isn’t the only thing that has increased in price. Other items like Basmati rice, flour, burger buns, noodles and sardine have also increased. “Sardine that used to be ₦350 is now ₦700.”

The business changed its menu twice this year to accommodate these changes, and although it took a while for customers to adapt, they eventually came around. “We rather increase the price of our food than reduce the quality.” 

Rovallion Dishes – We focus more on portions and presentation rather than worrying over numbers

Ravallion Dishes have been in business for two years. In that time, they’ve gone from spending ₦20,000 to ₦35,000 to ₦40,000 per week. The business, which specialises in finger foods, bespoke meals and lunch packs, tells us that a basket of Irish potatoes went from ₦600 to ₦1600. That’s almost three times the original price. 

The owner of the food truck business tells us that food prices have increased in recent times. “Anything carbs, from rice to plantains to potatoes and even yam. It’s so bad that some areas sell it in slices,” he said. 

The major challenge this holiday season for the business is the high cost of proteins. “We used to do a treat box: 10 pieces of beef and 5 pieces of chicken with small chops for ₦2,500. Now that same meal costs ₦4,000,” he said. The business struggled in the middle of the year after the abrupt spike in the cost of production. “With time, we focus more on portions and presentation rather than worrying over numbers.”

Daily Chops Kitchen – We’ve learnt to walk around inflation

After two years of doing business, Daily Chop Kitchen’s weekly stock-up budget of ₦20,000 can no longer buy the things it used to. The business blames the general increase in the price of rice, yam, spices, fish, meat, beans and groundnut oil. “Power oil that cost ₦1,100 in November, is now ₦1,300. Some places even sell at ₦1,400,” their rep said. 

When the business compared the cost of cooking last holiday and this holiday, the price disparity can be traced to an increase in groundnut oil, rice and beans. “Rice was ₦700 per module, now it’s ₦1200. Beans went from ₦800 to ₦1000. Even spices are expensive now,” they said. 

In all this, the brand has managed to adapt and stay in business. “The daily increase in prices can be very depressing for a vendor. We can’t keep increasing our prices,” they said. “But we’ve learnt to walk around inflation by reducing our food portions but keeping presentation attractive.”

Tomis Cuisine – Our business is doing good despite the inflation

Almost two years ago, Tomisin Oyinloye, a 400-level student of UNILAG, started Tomis Cuisine, an online food delivery service that specialises in local and international cuisine. However, inflation has forced them to change their menu. The owner complained about an increase in tomatoes, pepper, turkey, chicken, rice and groundnut oil. 

A bag of rice she used to get for ₦22,000 is now ₦32,000. 25 Litres of groundnut oil, formerly ₦19,000 is now ₦27,000. A carton of chicken went from ₦14,000 to ₦18,000. “The price of frozen turkey surprises me the most,” she said. “Last year, a carton of turkey was about ₦18,000, now it’s sold for ₦25,000.”

This holiday season, Tomis Cuisine has created packages for families who want to celebrate and dine without the hassle of cooking themselves. The business admits that despite the hike in prices and change in menu, they are still doing good. 

Ronkusbeth Catering Services – My business is just managing to hang on

For five years, Ronkusbeth Catering Services has been in the business of catering indoor and outdoor events. Recently, the increase in the price of food items is causing the business some trouble. “There’s a huge difference between last year and this year’s prices. Things have gotten a lot more expensive,” the owner, Adebisi, said. 

With a noticeable increase in beef, poundo yam, semo and groundnut oil, she said, “We used to sell a plate of food for ₦500 with beef, but now, it’s ₦1,000 because meat is very expensive. 20 litres of vegetable oil went from ₦17,000 to ₦26,000. Poundo yam 5kg used to be ₦3,000, now it’s ₦5,200. ” 

Adebisi admits that her business is just managing to hang on. “We cannot diversify due to lack of capital, and the outdoor catering gigs aren’t as frequent as they used to be.”

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