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Sugar market: Producers scramble for market share

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…Golden Penny, Dangote, Bua draw battle lines

By Princewill Ekwujuru

FOLLOWING increasing health concerns over sugar consumption, manufacturers have been devising marketing strategies away from health issues. The manufacturers are also increasing their market focus away from direct consumers to industrial consumers.

For direct consumer markets the producers are playing up some marketing elements such as product fortification with vitamin ‘A’, solubility and whiteness as their unique selling propositions to retain or increase their patronage.

Golden penny

The producers are now developing new marketing approach to reach consumers, adding friendly packaging materials to prevent moisture penetration to retain the freshness at the point of retail sales, segmentation of the products into sachets as well as reducing the sweeteners.

Heightened competition

The developments have heightened competition in the market among such brands like Saint Louis, a French imported brand, Dangote sugar, manufactured by Dangote Sugar    Refinery Nigeria Plc, Golden sugar, produced by Golden Sugar Company Limited, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Bua sugar, produced by Bua Refinery Limited, Family  sugar by McNichols Plc, who pioneered the sachet sugar products segment, and Savannah sugar, Savannah Sugar Company Limited, a subsidiary of Dangote Group.

The competition has, however, narrowed the scramble for top spot in the market to Saint Louis, Dangote sugar, Golden sugar and Bua sugar.

C&M findings

Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M) findings show that competition in the market has pitched manufacturers along product fortification line, pocket friendliness, attractive packaging and availability.

A look into the cube and granulated segment of the sugar market show the preferences of the products, with  Saint Louis taking the lead in the cube segment followed by Golden Penny sugar as consumers claim it is less sweetened. While in the granulated segment Bua sugar leads, followed by Dangote and Golden Penny sugar.

The locals, Dangote sugar and Golden Penny sugar are, however, battling to take the market leadership from Saint Louis, deploying low sweetened sugar, thereby eating into Saint Loius’s market share.

Saint Loius has ruled the cube sugar market for over three decades without advertising or embarking on promos.

Consumers’ reaction

Off the number of consumers spoken to, majority of them preferred Golden Penny sugar, followed by  Dangote and Saint Louis, an indication that the market is gradually slipping off Saint Louis’s control. Price is not significant in this respect, as consumers say price difference is slight, a situation that has further stiffened competition in the market.

A consumer, Ayoola Omilabu of Mosak Bakeries, said that all the brands are fortified with vitamin ‘A,’ and are lowly sweetened, use them inter-changeably depending on the one that is accessible at a point in time, but noted he mostly uses BUA granulated sugar and Golden Penny sugar.

On the cube sugar brands, Patrick Obodo, said he takes his tea with any of the local brands, that “one cube of  St Louis equals three cubes of the local brands. I prefer using Golden Penny sugar,” he declared.

According to Mrs. Modupe Emilagba, a dietician, “sugar intake is good for the body, but excess of it is bad.” She, however, noted that the present taste of locally produced sugar brands are better for consumers since most Nigerian foods are carbohydrate based, “a little sweetened taste for tea is not too bad an idea.”

Dr.Val Ugbeche of Metro Clinic, Idimu, Lagos, said, “most people have reduced the intake of sugar because of the rise in diabetes and obesity, which invariably is affecting the volume of sugar consumption in the country. Sugar is an energizer, excessive intake is dangerous,” he noted also.

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