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Table salt producers battle for market leadership

….Bayswater, Dangote and Unilever in competitive edge

By Princewill Ekwujuru &Yusuf Kazeem

FOLLOWING health concerns over table salt intake, manufacturers are beginning to refocus their marketing strategies away from health issues.

For direct consumer markets, the producers are playing up some marketing elements such as products’ fortification with iodine and pureness of the products as their unique selling point to retain or increase patronage.

Table Salt

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

The developments have heightened competition in the market among brands like Mr Chef, manufactured by Bayswater Industries Limited, Ogun State; Annapurna salt, produced by    Unilever Group in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Ghana’s Ministry of Health to reduce prevalence of iodine deficiency and bring major improvements in maternal and child health.

Attractive packaging

Others are Dangote salt, produced by NASCON Allied Industries, a subsidiary of Dangote Group; Dicon salt, manufactured by Union Dicon Salt Plc and Royal salt, produced by Royal Salt Limited, Rivers State. The competition has, however, narrowed the scramble for top spot in the market to  Mr Chef, followed by Annapurna and Dangote salt.

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

A look into the packaged iodized salt market shows that the three leading salt brands deployed almost the same marketing strategies, with Mr Chef leading the market going by the number of respondents’ who declared preference for the brand. Annapurna is second, followed by Dangote salt.

Consumers speak: Majority of the consumers preferred Mr Chef and Annapurna because of their fortification elements. Consumers said they also used both brands interchangeably, but alternates with Dangote salt when both are not available in the market.

A wholesaler, Mr. Nnamdi Okafor, at Ikotun market, Lagos, said he buys Mr Chef salt in large quantity because of its high demand, followed by Annapurna and Dangote salt.

Another wholesaler, Madam Lolade, at the same market, said, the advantage Mr Chef has over other competing brands is that it was the first sachet salt product in the market.

Madam Folashade, whose shop is located at Oke-Arin market, Lagos, confirmed that the demand and price for Dangote salt is lower than that of Mr Chef andAnnapurna, but wondered why both brands are taking the lead in the market.

On the other hand, a distributor, Mr. Marcus Okwudili of Max Ventures said: “The market price for Dangote salt is lower compared to others, not that the product is not good, but we don’t really know why consumers prefer competing brands. May be they are not being vocal enough in the market.”

Manufacturer speaks

A top official in Dangote Group who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “Our salt which comes in 250g, 500g and 1kg poly bags (sachets) is extra refined to give a purer and finer textured product, thus guaranteeing superior quality; it is also iodized in line with World Health Organisation standards.

Premium packaging

“We have totally revamped our salt, making it truly new and improved; it offers consumers a clear free flowing product at the right levels of iodization, moisture control and now has clearly differentiated premium packaging in line with our commitment to constantly innovate to exceed the expectations of our customers and consumers in Nigeria.

“The elegant blue and white pack delivers both functional and aesthetic value to our consumers, making the product pop on shelves as it is easy to recognise.”

Reiterating the value proposition of the revamped product, he stated, “the repackaging is a bold step as we continue to lead product and packaging innovation within the product category”.

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