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Reasons why Niger Delta region must encourage bakery products

Bakery products contain high nutritive value and are manufactured from combinations of wheat or other flours, sugar, baking powder, condensed milk, fat (ghee), salt, jelly, dry fruits, various essences and flavouring. Different type of bakery products can be classified as dry bakery products and moist bakery products. Dry bakery products include soft biscuits, hard biscuits, cookies, crackers, fancy biscuits and cream wafer biscuits. Moist bakery products include sweet bread, milk bread, masala bread, garlic bread, fruit bread, various types of buns, cakes, pastries, muffins etc. These products are available in various sizes, shapes and forms.
The demand for bread is expected to explode in the coming years. South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya are currently the largest and leading bread markets in Africa. The key drivers of this demand are Africa’s rapidly growing population, an expanding middle class which has more money to spend, an enlarging labour force, and increasing rates of migration to African cities and towns. Africa now has more than 50 cities inhabited by over one million people. By 2020, more than 500 million Africans are projected to live in urban areas and cities. Statistics reveal that urban dwellers and city people eat more bread than people in the rural areas. Given the rapid growth of African city populations, bread is sure to remain a highly sought-after food item by African households. Some bakeries have gone out of business with some new ones being established, while others have continued to flourish over the years. The characteristics of some of these baked products are acceptable while others are’ inconsistent and sometimes objectionable with regards to taste, flavour, colour, texture, and general appearance due differences in the technological capabilities of bakeries that produce them.
However, there has been rapid growing population of what products particularly, bread. Lots of problems arise in the bakery industry more especially in the expanding of demand forces for the market for bread coupled with the economic depression and constant devaluation of Nigeria’s currency which poses a big challenge to the bakery industry especially in Port Harcourt Metropolis. This is in no doubt, have affected the performance of the bread producing and marketing company. A critical analysis of the predicaments of the bulky bread industry in addition with the economic constraints facing the enterprise indicates absolute ignorance of the importance of the marketing concept. There is therefore a total neglect of the necessity for a well-programmed marketing activity. Generally, most bakery types, like any other small-scale business still exercise pessimism which consumers will always buy if a product is of a high quality. Hence, they fail to realize that consumers need to be stimulated with incentives and even information in order to purchase more.
Most bakeries and bread sellers experience a lot of distributional and marketing problems, owing to the total neglect of a complete marketing arrangement in creating its marketing share. Also, competition from new bakeries in the industry is becoming stiff and strong. If bread that used to be one of the most patronized food enterprise is losing its prestige, what can the fate for it be like in the mere future. This is because the firm has not been considered a complete marketing arrangement which includes effective and efficient distribution, consumer-oriented business approach, proper-matching of the product with the market as proactive salesmanship and other promotional efforts.
Bread producers and marketers (vendors or sellers), who are either wholesalers or retailers in Port Harcourt City were sampled and interviewed with fascinating findings recorded.
As a matter of fact, majority of the producers fell within the active age range of 31 and 50, while the wholesalers and retailers indicated that 31-40years. Regarding sex of the respondents, more males dominated the bread production enterprise. Majority of the respondents were married upon which their business supported their households.
Regarding religion, household size and educational level of the respondents, majority of the respondents indicated that they were Christians, 1-3 category of persons indicated that they had secondary education, respectively.
Regarding channel of distribution of their product, findings of the study further showed that majority of the key players who engage in bread production and marketing passed from producers through the wholesalers and retailers to the final consumers, and not from producers to final consumers which is a clear indication that the middlemen or intermediaries (wholesalers and retailers) in the marketing process must have wielded more profits than the other channels. This assertion was arrived after series of costs and returns analysis were carried out. The implication of the high profits earned by the market enterprise players could be attributed to the reason why they remain in the business. Regarding the bottlenecks encountered by the bread producers, problem of funding (for bread producers), while for wholesalers and retailers indicated that inadequate capital was the major constraint to expanding the scale of their business.
Furthermore, bread producers indicated that high cost of inputs such as flour, sugar, yeast, firewood and salt were the major constraints; whereas, lack of technical knowhow, poor power supply, high tax rate were major constraints faced by the wholesalers and retailers in the area.
From the findings, it could be concluded that bread and bakery enterprise is an avenue upon which the livelihoods of many families in Nigerian cities especially Port Harcourt City, can be supported. It is pertinent to note that inadequate capital, high cost of raw materials, lack of technical know-how, poor power of supply and high tax rate were the identified constraints to bread marketing. The researcher advises the government of Nigeria to create more enabling environment for the bread sellers and vendors, so as to ensure/encourage good hygiene and proper handling for health reasons of its consumers.

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