Since 2016, SBM Intelligence has curated the Jollof Index by collecting food prices monthly in a growing number of markets across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. This number now stands at 13. The closest approximator of inflation for the Nigerian is food inflation, because, according to a 2019 survey carried out by SBM Intelligence. Nigerians spend more than 60% of their income on food on the average. Historically, food inflation has tracked at least 200 basis points above core inflation.
A key point to note is the trend since 2016 when this index was tracked. 2016 also represents the last time Nigeria had a single digit inflation rate, before the oil prices collapsed which combined with ham-fisted policy responses, caused a recession. The effects of this recession continues to reverberate in the economics of the country. The Average National Jollof Index has increased by 78% in the 4-year period from July 2016 to June 2020.
Five respondents were highlighted in this report. In Baruwa in Lagos, the mother of a family of seven said that she typically spends ₦5,500 making a pot of jollof rice, up from ₦4,000. She, however, complained that even with this amount, the food does not go round enough for the entire family. According to this respondent, the most expensive ingredients are tomatoes, rice, chicken, and groundnut oil. Her family substitutes jollof rice with the new jollof noodles and sometimes spaghetti. Another respondent, this time in Aguda in the Surulere suburb of Lagos said that it costs her family ₦2,500 up from ₦1,700 to make jollof rice. She has substituted meat for fish. Rice and groundnut oil are now much more expensive, so she has cut down on the number of times she cooks rice, substituting it with spaghetti and sauce for her family.
In order to make ends meet, more people are beginning to look for alternatives, and even these alternatives, which we also track, are beginning to get costlier as demand surges. While we believe that the easing of the COVID-19 induced travel restrictions from 1 July will have a positive effect on the prices of food, this effect will not be enough.The implication of this is that while things generally get more expensive for Nigerians in the double digits, food which takes up such a large portion of their spending and which is the most basic necessity of life continues to get more expensive even faster. It emphasises the point that the government needs to rethink its food and agriculture strategy. Simply put, a top priority of the government should be to make food cheaper for the people.
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