PZ Wilmar vegetable oil have dominated Nigerian market

By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

The ‘cooking oil war’ for the control of Nigeria’s vast vegetable oil market has intensified with oil palm dealers’ battling for market share.  The battle, according to Business Hallmark findings, is mainly between vegetable oil importers on one hand, and the three leading local vegetable oil producers, PZ Wilmar, Okomu Oil and Presco Oil.

A 2-week survey undertaken by BH indicates that PZ Wilmar, a subsidiary of PZ Cussons, is enjoying market dominance riding on the popularity of two of its brands Devon King and Mamador.  Presco and Okomu oil are also pushing hard to challenge Wimar’s dominance.

While Presco, apart from consolidating its hold on the palm oil market, introduced Olein, a light liquid component of palm oil obtained when the oil is separated by a process called fractionation to challenge Devon Kings and Mamador into the market, Okumu is focusing mainly on the palm oil market where it strength lies.

Although other local players such as Sunuola, Honeywell, Grand, PowerOil, among others have also launched various products to get their own share of the cooking oil market, imported products procured cheaply from South East Asian markets are steadily crowding out the local producers.

According to BH survey, Mamador and Devon Kings, produced by PZ Wilmar, controls 61% of the high-end vegetable oil market, followed by Grand Oil, Sunuola and Olein. On their heels are PowerOil and Honeywell cooking oils.

The survey revealed that most Nigerians, particularly the poor go for locally refined oil, as well as those smuggled in from neighbouring West African nations because of their affordability.

While the poor and average Nigerians are going for locally refined and smuggled cooking oil, findings revealed that relatively well-off Nigerians prefer the well refined products because of their low cholesterol content.

A nutritionist, Dr. Biola Koyejo, told BH that products like Devon Kings, Mamador, Grand, Sunuola and their likes are reaping from the enormous argument by producers of vegetable oil in western parts of the world playing up the issue of heart friendly oil.

“Their claim that vegetable oil from Soya beans, corn, rapeseed, olive and so on are heart- friendly, while that from oil palm, largely produced in South East Asia and Africa, are loaded with saturated fat and therefore a potential source of coronary heart diseases, has scared off many rich and middle class Nigerians from consuming palm oil products.

“As Nigerians gradually embrace cooking oil that is low on cholesterol, firms that first embraced modern oil refineries with the capacity to lower or totally extract fat from their products or those using soya beans, olive, corn, are daily smiling to the bank”, Koyejo said.

Despite the fact that cholesterol free oil is relatively expensive, compared to other products, rich Nigerians still go for it. BH checks show that Devon Kings, Mamador, Sunuola, Grand and Olein are the best selling products.

Checks at leading stores like Hubmart, Shoprite, Spar, Adide, Grandsquare, revealed that Mamador and Kings are the favourites.  Our reporter who went round some of these mega stores in Lagos was not able to purchase Devon Kings cooking oil manufactured by PZ Wimar. He was informed by sales representatives on duty that they were out of stock.

Despite visiting several stores including Shoprite, located at Ikeja Mall, Hubmart on Isaac John, GRA, Ikeja and Adide at Iju Road, our correspondent could not get Kings Oil to buy. However, luck came his way when he visited Shoprite store inside The Palms, Otta, immediately after the old toll-gate on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

A customer had picked the last 5-litre Devon Kings oil when our reporter entered the store. A pleasant female supervisor approached our correspondent and other buyers and assured them that more products are being brought from the store.

As promised, a sales attendant soon came in with a trolley filled with the much sought after product and proceeded with the task of stacking them on the shelf to the delight of eager buyers.

However, the shelf again became empty within the twenty minutes BH spent in the store. The supervisor, who spoke with BH on the condition of anonymity, said that demand for the product is beyond the production capacity of PZ Wimar.

“They can’t just cope. Today alone (last Tuesday), we sold over 200 gallons. That is just this branch. You can imagine others selling at the same rate. The manufacturer cannot cope with demand. Our customers often times have to buy other products as substitutes”, she noted.

According to BH survey, a 5-litre gallon of Devon Kings cooking oil goes for between N3, 350 and N3, 600 in major stores. However, it is a bit cheaper in the open market. A 5-litre gallon at the Agege and Ogba Retail Markets were sold between N3, 050 and N3, 200.

On the contrary, PZ Wilmar’s other product, Mamador, is more available in the market. Sellers who spoke to BH agreed that it stays more on the shelf because it is more expensive for most Nigerians to afford.

“It is a specialized product, made exclusively for the upper class. It sells more during festive periods when companies buy it as gifts to staffs and customers,” said Alhaja Silifat Junaid, a distributor at the popular Ogba Market.

For example, a bottle of 2.5 liters Mamador Vegetable Oil goes for between N2, 900 and N3 Mamador, while a 900ml bottle goes for N1,200. On the other hand, a 3.5litre bottle goes for between N3,600 and N4,050, depending on the location.

Meanwhile, other products sold by competitors are relatively cheaper, except for Sunuola, which is more on the high side. A 3 litre keg of Sunola Soy Oil is sold for between ₦ 2,300 and N2, 800, while 1.6litres a Power Oil Pure Vegetable Cooking Oil sells for ₦ 2,300.

While local competitors seems to be no match for Kings and Mamador, foreign brands such as Wesson Canola Oil, made from cottonseed oil by a Memphis, Tennessee firm in the United States are recording good patronage, despite their high price.

A 4.73litres Wesson Canola Oil 4.73litres is sold for between N3, 800 and N4,200, while a 5-litre Pet Tesco Pure Sunflower Oil sells for N 4,200, price tags far beyond the reach of an average Nigerian.

While rich Nigerians indulge themselves in the safe comfort of healthy cholesterol free cooking oil, the large percentage of Nigerians go for the far cheaper local oil. BH checks revealed that a normal 5-litre gallon of locally made cooking oil goes for between N1, 800 and N2, 100, while a bottle goes for between N350 and N400.

The owner of a medium scale refinery based in Ibadan, Oyo State, Mr. Gbenga Oyewole, alleged that the big players have enjoyed monopoly of the vegetable oil market in the country for years and having become accustomed to the high margins resulting from their firm control of the market are unwilling to yield grounds to new players. According to him, their products are as good, or even better, than those of the big players.

Sources familiar with the cooking industry told BH that the demand for Devon King is on the rise due to customer loyalty and reputation.

“Most of the dealers at the moment prefer to sell Kings because of not only its long reputation but also the discounts the company is offering”, he said.

The Managing Director of PZ Wilmar, Mr. Santosh Pillai, described Kings as a significant brand. “Devon King’s cooking oil is quality cooking oil that has been imported into Nigeria for over half a century and has over the years been a trusted brand for consumers. While staying true to its heritage, we have added more value to King’s oil as it is now locally produced in Nigeria.

“Devon King’s cooking oil is fresher than ever before, more affordable and comes in a wide range of pack sizes so that no matter what your need is, you have options to choose from. King’s cooking oil is the quality alternative to adulterated and imported oil and it offers the best value for money.

“Unlike imported cooking oils, Devon Kings doesn’t stay on high seas for six months or more but is locally produced in a world class refinery in Nigeria. Our NAFDAC approved, CODEX standard manufacturing environment guarantees you fresh cooking oils for your frying or cooking pleasure.

King’s cooking oil is produced and hygienically packaged in a world-class, clean manufacturing environment to ensure your cooking oil isn’t adulterated. As long as the packaging seal is unbroken, you are completely assured of the purity and the tamper-evident seal on the product testifies to this commitment to quality”, he boasted

Also speaking, the General Manager, Marketing, PZ Wilmar, Bukola Bandele, while speaking to BH, explained that in the short time Mamador Cooking Oil made its debut in the market, the premium brand had been well accepted by consumers.

She further pointed out that the successes the brand had recorded was due to its consistent high quality and growing awareness of Nigerian women on the need to feed their families with heart-friendly cooking oil.

 

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