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RipplesMetrics: Residents in South-West spend more to eat a healthy meal



Over the last year, Nigerians have struggled with an increasing inflation rate which has affected the prices of food. As an extension, this means that the cost of eating a healthy diet would increase.

For instance, the National Bureau of Statistics report disclosed that as of October 2022, a Nigerian would spend N449 to eat a portion of healthy food. One year later, the amount has almost doubled to N703 spent on a healthy meal.

As of October 2022, Nigeria’s inflation rate was 21.09 per cent, but, this increased to 27.33 per cent by 2023. This increase would be connected to several economic policies that have affected the Nigerian market. Some of these included the naira currency upgrade which crashed the currency in circulation for businesses and traders; the removal of fuel subsidy which skyrocketed the prices of household goods and transportation; and the devaluation of naira at the foreign exchange market.

Also, there is the lending of N23 trillion by the Central Bank of Nigeria via the Ways and Means window to the federal government which sporadically increased the debt of Nigeria. As of December 2023, data from the Debt Management Office showed that Nigerian debt has risen to N97.34 trillion.

For this report, RipplesMetric observed how the cost of eating a healthy diet has increased over the last five months, from October 2023 to February 2024.

The Cost of a Healthy Diet (CoHD) is the least expensive combination of locally available items that meet globally consistent food-based dietary guidelines. It is used as a measure of physical and economic access to healthy diets. This is a lower bound (or floor) of the cost per adult per day excluding the cost of transportation and meal preparation.

According to NBS, In Nigeria, CoHD is the minimum cost of foods needed to meet international recommendations defined in the Healthy Diet Basket (HDB), a globally relevant set of criteria that captures similarities across most national food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG).

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According to data, as of February 2024, the national average price of eating a good meal is N938. This amount is an increase of 33.43 per cent in the space of five months, when compared to N703 reported in October 2023.

Thai data also mean that a Nigerian can not feed himself with a minimum wage of N30,000 on two healthy diets daily in a month. For instance, if a Nigerian earns a minimum wage of N30,000, as of October 2023, the Nigerian would be spending N42,180 to eat two healthy diets every day in a month. This is already N12,180 higher than the minimum wage.

However, by February 2024, with N938 as the CoHD, a Nigerian would need N56,280 to feed himself with two healthy diets in a month.

RipplesMetrics went further to check the regional cost of eating healthy food over the last five months. Findings showed that residents living in the South-west pay more for one healthy meal than other residents living in other geopolitical zones.

Since the beginning of this year, residents living in the South-West paid more than N1,000 to eat a healthy meal, as to other regions, making it the most expensive region to eat.

For instance, in February 2024, the average cost of eating a healthy diet was pegged at N1,157. In January, it was N1,045 for a meal. Looking through the data since October 2023, the amount increased from N760 to N877 in November and N979 in December 2023.

The recent inflation rate at 33.2 per cent in March 2024, the highest since March 1996, and the food inflation at over 40 per cent, there is high speculation for residents, especially in the South-west, to spend more on feeding themselves.

By: James Odunayo

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