Cocoa beverage brands battle over market share

By Abimbola Mohammed

Nigeria’s growing population coupled with its increasing urban concentration makes it a primary market for cocoa beverages. Nigeria is also a major player in the production of cocoa globally, although most of the players in the cocoa powder segment of the market depend largely on importation for their raw materials.

According to statistics, Nigeria is the fourth largest global producer of cocoa, just behind Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana. In 2016, the largest exporter of cocoa beans was Côte d’Ivoire (USD 3.9 billion), followed by Ghana (USD 2.5 billion) and Nigeria (USD 0.8 billion). The largest importers were the Netherlands (USD 2.6 billion), Germany (USD 1.5 billion) and the United States (USD 1.3 billion).

Sadly, despite the huge availability of cocoa in Nigeria, major players in the cocoa beverage market are largely foreign companies, while local producers continue to play on the fringes.

Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans, which come from the plant Theobroma cacao L. Cocoa beans are the primary ingredients in chocolate, but they can also be ground into cocoa powder. The powder provides many potential health benefits.

Cocoa powder provides tons of benefits, especially if the powder used to mix some drinks is at least 72% cocoa. Cocoa powder contains iron, zinc, and selenium. These minerals help the body to function and give the immune system a boost.

Apart from its immense health benefits, cocoa has other benefits along its value chain, the cocoa bean. The cocoa bean seed is used to produce cocoa butter and in turn converted into chocolate which when grounded is regarded as the cocoa beverage.

The cocoa sector is an important source of livelihoods, providing revenue for 40 to 50 million people, mostly in developing countries and including 16 Low Human Development Countries (LHDCs).

Over time, the Nigerian market has become a colony of activities for makers of cocoa drinks around the world. This is partly due to an increase of the young population in the country. Though the recent economic contraction has reduced the purchasing power of many consumers, the volume of sales is gradually heading north again with recession gradually easing.

In Nigeria, some of the coca brands that are still doing well in the market and are also at the top of consumers’ list include Milo, Bournvita, Ovaltine, Cowbell Choco and Twisco.

A special intelligence market survey by MARKETING EDGE, the leading brand and advertising focused magazine, has revealed that the choice of consumers differs based on how and what they feel; each mentioning the cocoa brand they add to their diets.

Speaking with MARKETING EDGE, Mrs. Olabisi from Ikorodu, a retiree from the ministry of works and housing, said she prefers Ovaltine. “I prefer Ovaltine to any other brand of cocoa drink because the taste is unique and it also dissolves instantly in water.”

She, however, said she only opts for other cocoa brands when they come as gift items.

Mrs. Enitan, a teacher from Amos Nursery and Primary School, Victoria Island, Lagos, said she believes Ovaltine is better than every other brand of cocoa powder.

A retailer at Ketu market, Alhaja Sekinat said she sells more of Bournvita than she sells any other product.

Also Mr. Timothy from Omole Estate, a banker said he prefers Bournvita. His words: “I prefer the taste of Bournvita because it also gives the same taste either in cold or hot water. Bournvita is satisfying.”

For Mrs. Juliet Alero from Ojokoro, Milo isher preferred cocoa beverage. “It’s sweet and creamy and already with milk. The only beverage allowed for nursing mothers because it makes you sleep.”

For Jennifer from Ikeja, Computer Village, Lagos, it’s Cadbury Bournvita. “It’s sweet, creamy and more economical. There is no disappointment so far; I’m always satisfied with it.”

Miss Debola Davis from Festac town has this to say: “I prefer Bournvita any time, any day because it dissolves instantly in hot or cold water. I drink it when I want to add weight.”

However, an online research on Google Form revealed Milo to be more accepted by many Nigerian consumers. Here are the questions and responses from individuals:

Questions: What is your preferred choice of cocoa beverages among these – Milo, Bournvita, Suco, Ovaltine, Cowbell Choco, Cadbury Choco, Twisco, Horlicks? Why do you prefer one over another? What was your experience like after taking the above mentioned beverage? Would you recommend your choice of cocoa drink to anyone?

Answers: Suco because it dissolves quickly in both cold and hot water.

I prefer Milo because of the smooth grind and taste, especially when I take it with milk.

I like Twisco because it’s well processed and refreshing.

I prefer Milo because it is richer in vitamins, and makes me feel relished and relaxed.

I prefer Milo because it is easily accessible and it relaxes my body too.

Milo is my favourite cocoa drink because of its quality. It is nourishing and very reliable.

Milo does the cocoa drink magic for me. I like the refreshing taste.

Without a doubt, Bournvita from the production line of Cadbury Nigeria Plc, and Milo, manufactured by Nestlé Nigeria Plc are undoubtedly the biggest players in Nigeria’s cocoa beverage market.


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