The gap between supply and demand for low-fat dairy foods like yoghurt in Nigeria is widening as a result of increases in population and urbanization. Nigeria is the most populated nation in Africa and with a population of about 170 million people, the country is a huge market for potential investors in the agro allied cum food processing industries. In addition, with a huge population of youths and more than 300 tertiary institutions, labour is cheap and readily available in Nigeria.
Yoghurt is a pasteurized low-fat milk drink that is fermented and conjugated to a custard-like consistency with mixed lactic acid culture. It is consumed all year round but the demand for the product gain sharp increases mostly during the dry season. It is popular as a nutritious food item, especially among the weight-conscious people. The presence of a number of alternative food ingredients for yoghurt manufacturing in Nigeria is another advantage that makes investing in yoghurt manufacturing in this West African nation a steal.
Notable Brands and Types of Yoghurt in Nigeria
The notable brands of yoghurts sold in Nigeria are basically of two types depending on the choice of food ingredients for yoghurt manufacturing available in Nigeria. There are plain yoghurts and there are fruit yoghurts. Either of these two categories could be classified as yoghurt characterized by a firm jelly-like texture because it has been incubated and cooled before being final packaged or the stirred yoghurt which is the yoghurt incubated in a tank so that the final coagulum is “broken” by stirring prior to cooling and packaging. There is also the drinking yoghurt which is similar to the stirred yoghurt but the major difference being that the agitation used to “break” the coagulum is severe. There is also the frozen yoghurt. This usually consists of thin yoghurt blended with a base mixture of high solid ice cream.
Concentrated yoghurt is inoculated and fermented in the same manner as stirred yoghurt. Following the “breaking” of the coagulum the yoghurt is concentrated by boiling off some of the water under a vacuum to reduce the temperature required. Flavoured yoghurt is made by adding the flavours at or just prior to filling into pots. Common additives are fruits or berries. Common flavours used are banana, apple, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, fruit juice and other condiments.
There are several brands of yoghurts manufactured in Nigeria of which the notable ones include: Hollandia Yoghurt, Frenzy Yoghurt, Fresh Yo Yoghurt, and Fan Yogurt.
The Raw Materials for Yoghurt Manufacturing in Nigeria
The commonly used food ingredients for yoghurt manufacturing in Nigeria include skim milk powder (SMP), sugar, stabilizer, starter of pure culture and flavour. About five types of milk can be used but the most preferred is the SMP. Some of the raw materials are imported but are locally available in the markets when desired. It is worth noting that the choice of raw materials will greatly affect the quality of the finished product.
The major ingredients in terms of cost for yoghurt manufacturing are milk and sugar which are readily and cheaply available in Nigeria. In addition, researchers from The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Ibadan, Nigeria and the Department of Food Science and Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria, have demonstrated that soymilk and maize steep water can be used as alternative raw materials to cow milk and commercial starter respectively for yoghurt production.