By Princewill Ekwujuru
FOUR electronic and home appliances manufacturers have stepped up efforts to increase their share of the Deep Fryer segment of the home appliances market. The manufacturers are Mikachi, Life’s Good, LG, Samsung and Panasonic.
A deep fryer is a deep pan or pot with a basket. Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot fat, most commonly oil, rather than the shallow oil used in conventional frying, done in a frying pan.
In a bid to attract more patronage, the manufacturers have enhanced their products with technological innovations aimed at improving consumers’ experience. This include power efficient features reinforced with product segmentation based on size, colour and designs to suit the various income groups.
Other measures introduced to improve convenient use of their products include ease of cleaning, viewing window, nonstick material, filtration and oil drain mechanism. The manufacturers have also ensured that the exterior temperature is low.
The deep fryers now have adjustable thermostat and their oil capacity range from one litre to six litres depending on the depth, width and height of the fryer. Unlike in other home appliances market, the deep fryer is yet to be popular among majority of consumers, therefore the fairly used is non-existent, and hence not a threat to the market leaders. Some of the deep fryer brands also competing for consumer attention are T-Fal, Hamilton Beach, Whirpool, Scanfrost, DeLonghi and others. In distribution, the manufacturers are not neglecting the concept of delivering to the distributors directly, depending majorly on super distributors to reach their target audience which include the retailers.
Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M, discovered that majority of the consumers are still attached to the old method of using the frying pan, finding it difficult to embrace the new way of frying with a deep fryer.
Furthermore, a deep fryer is perceived as an elitist product. It is popular among the middle class and the affluent as well as big hotels and restaurants.
Findings by C&M show that some innovations have been introduced in the menu settings of the deep fryer.
For instance, to fry a chicken, the deep fryer must be set at 170 degree centigrade; yam, potato, plantain chips must be at 190 degrees centigrade; fish at 150 degree centigrade; shrimps and crayfish at 130 degrees.
There is also the timer control which allows the user to program the deep fryer in advance to fry at a set time and an attached handle to lift the basket inside the fryer. There is also the power indicator light.
In order to enhance popularity, the manufacturers have resorted to demonstrating the use of the product in various places to create awareness for the product.
Every product has its challenges, for example, the deep fryer requires much oil to fry one tuber of yam chips, because the oil has to get to a marked level in the deep fryer pot to be able to cover the yam chips to fry adequately. The parts are not available; it has no fairly used value as there are no repairers in Nigeria.
Of the number of consumers that spoke to C&M, many did not have knowledge of the deep fryer, but those who did confirmed that they preferred Mikachi, LG, Samsung and Panasonic due to ease of operation.
A consumer, Pascal Edebiri, a civil servant said he uses the Mikachi deep fryer. “I bought it three years ago. It has served me, it helps me fry faster than the traditional frying pan, and the fries look very neat. It does not allow your fries to get burnt.”
Hossana Utuk who operates a restaurant in Surulere said a friend introduced her to the use of deep fryer. “It has helped me in my business. I do not have to stay all through with my fries, but I simply set the timer, go do other chores and come back to remove the fries. I think it is a good product. I use the LG product.”
A supervisor in an electronic store in Ikeja, who does not want her name in print said: “If you look around, you will find that deep fryers are not the regular products consumers buy, you will find out that it is not for everybody, it has class, because it’s not popular among consumers, that is why the price is affordable.”
Also speaking, another restaurant operator, Mercy Idinagbe-Oku of Ziklag Assembly, Agbara, Lagos, said: “I use T-Fal which I brought from abroad. It delivers impressive results. It has a roomy vat for frying, and it produces crispy, moist and delicious fried chicken strips. The features I like the most are the automatic oil filtration system, drain and storage option – it’s all in the bottom of the fryer, so you don’t need a separate container to save the oil.
“Safety is a major concern for most people buying a deep fryer, and if you have children, it is especially important. The DeLonghi Roto D677UZ is easily among the safest deep fryers. Its unique design allows you to submerge food into the oil with the lid closed so oil splatter is virtually eliminated.
The external temperature on this fryer stayed at around 100 degrees, which is a touchable temperature that should never endanger a curious child,” says Maria Akhiwu, an Occupation Health and Safety Officer who use the DeLonghi brand.