By Moses Nosike
It was on a Thursday afternoon, when media men arrived at Ijebu Odi for a factory tour. It is food and beverages factory,Rita Food Company worth billions of dollars investment. The land is massive, the environment is accommodating, the production process is automated and most importantly of a global standard. I couldn’t imagine an indigenous company can operate at such standard, and ready to beat other conglomerates in town with the level of innovation going on there daily.
That media tour is remarkable and can not be easily forgotten where an indigenous industrialist with repute, a young Nigerian with a lion’s heart, Saleem Adegunwa has proved to Nigerians and the entire world that the “Nigerianess” in us can compete globally with best result right here in our father land.
What is going on in Rite Food company in Ijebu Ode is motivating, encouraging, can stir your spirit to start taking steps of success, seeing a purely indigenous company advancing from one level to another in this challenging period where Covid-19 had either shutdown or reduce production processes thereby increasing the labour market. But Adegunwa’s slogan, “I can, I am” is propelling him the more in his fearless attitude about the environment and competition.
Today, Nigeria can boost of an indigenous company that has provided employment to more than 3,000 people since inception in 2008.
Saleem Adegunwa is one of the few Nigerians who does not feel inferior or condemn his country Nigeria, but always believe we have what it takes to beat other countries of the world. He believes in hardwork and diligent. His years of experience in the global business really repositioned Adegunwa to become a treat to big and small competitors in the food and beverage industry both home and abroad. He is fearless young Nigerian, confident and simple in appearance, full of vision and innovation.
Rite Foods, a truly world-class and proudly Nigerian foods and beverages manufacturing company was established in 2007 as a subsidiary of the innovative, ESS-AY Holdings Limited.
According to Adegunwa, this strong heritage started in 1963 with ESS-AY Holdings Limited, having four (4) companies under its wings; Fototek Industries Limited, Photo Palace Limited, Photo Product Division and Prints Speciality Limited. “Competing with Multinationals such as Kodak, Fuji, Konica Minolta. Also, had the first fully-equipped colour and largest Photo Lab in West Africa, responsible for AGFA in eight countries of the West African region namely, Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Cameroon”.
He told the media that Rite Foods Factory started from the ground floor of Adebola House, Opebi, Lagos in 2008, following the digital evolution in photography that the Group decided to diversify into the FMCG sector, which led to the birth of Rite Foods Limited.
“Producing three variants of sausage brands, competing for the market share with multinationals like Leventis, UAC Foods and UTC. This emerging conglomerate has imbibed the exceptional culture of excellence and success of always being No. 1 in any business ventured into with the introduction of innovative products. With time, Rite sausage brands became the Most innovative Sausage Roll, Number 1 Sausage Roll in Nigeria with the Innovative Rite Spicy Sausage and dominated the Sausage market with variety of the Sausage Rolls.
Also, it introduced the Bigi Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSD) in 2016 and Fearless Energy Drinks in 2017. Since then, the brands have set the pace for others to follow, as the most preferred products by families nationwide, as well as addressing the market need of young pupils in schools. The CSD has 12 variants, the Bigi Premium Table Water, which is produced with global best practices in purification for hydration, freshness and healthy living.
Continuing he said that the company’s inventiveness has earned high recognition in the energy drinks market with the first ever packaged polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle brands for the Fearless Red Berry and Fearless Classic. It is perhaps, the fastest-growing Foods and Beverages Company in West Africa, with the vision of becoming the industry’s foremost conglomerate by 2030.
For a Nigerian based refreshment organization with humble beginnings, Rite Foods has defeated the chances in an industry soaked with numerous international brands. “Its prosperity is expected less to what the organization did before dispatch, yet how it figured out how to flourish after launch.
Starting a beverage industry that is undertaking all operations in Nigeria has been quite a challenge especially with consumers remaining very adamant to change especially with the mentality of not wanting to try out new brands. We have been able to win the hearts of Nigerians with top quality and taste not differing from that of their giant rivals.
Being an industry that undergoes all operation in Nigeria we have been able to employ over 3000 youths which is an estimate of the number of youth corpers in one batch stream in Lagos in just three years of establishment. And not only did we create a large number of employment, we also provide them with staff accommodation within a stone throw from the office that makes working stress free. The rapid success of Rite Foods Limited, presently led by second generation custodians and gradually extending into the next generation, broken all encumbrances known with indigenous businesses, can be attributed to its quality consciousness and technological advances within the market space”.
Due to the vision and expansion drive of the founder, a truly world-class factory was built in Ososa, Ogun state and started production in 2012. Both the sausage and beverage products are produced in world class facilities with machineries that are the best from all over the world ensuring the most hygienic conditions.
The factory which is automated with little or no – human interference, generates its own source of electricity via the largest solar plant in West Africa alongside it usage of Gas and Diesel induced plant connected to the National Grid that facilitates seamless,24/7 uninterrupted power supply to the highly sensitive, sophisticated technology factory.
With the vision of leaving an enduring legacy, Chairman, ESS-AY Holdings Limited, Dr. S. A Adegunwa while receiving The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the factory in 2017, noted that “with the visit of his excellency to our factory, this is a defining moment in the history of Rite Foods Limited”. The VP also corroborated the submission of the Chairman, stated “this is a testament to the true Nigerian spirit of hard work, bold entrepreneurship and commitment to world class standards”.
As part of relief efforts to cushion the economic effects of coronavirus, Rite Foods Limited partnered with the Lagos State government in its COVID-19 Emergency Food response Project, also provided thousands of bottles of drinking water to support residents of the state. The Euphoria generated at the 2020 Headies awards which was the 14th edition of the annual awards would not have been created without the influence of Rite Foods. It was a very exceptional one as 75% of the attendance was virtual due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
It is definitely more fitting that the number one Energy drink brand in Nigeria, Fearless, sponsored this edition of the Headies. Also, with the recent sponsorship of Prophetess, a movie shot in Nigeria and presently running at the Cinemas, Rite Foods Limited is gradually making inroads into Nigeria’s fledging and lucrative Nollywood. Nigerian Idols, a platform for budding and talented singers to express themselves is also been sponsored by this emerging, friendly conglomerate.
News Correspondents had first-hand view and information while on tour of the Multi-Million dollar factory recently, they were inundated with the Nigerianess and “I CAN, I AM” mantra of the Brand.