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Food and beverages
The food and beverages industry is one of the most thriving sectors of the economy.8 It accounts for about 13 per cent of MVA in the country. The country's staple foods are millet, sorghum, yam and cassava, which are produced by small-scale and subsistence farmers. Output of the food sub-sector was heavily affected by severe drought in 1987 and 1988, while the availability of domestic produce since 1987 has been reduced by the high incidence of both official and illegal exports to neighbouring countries in order to take advantage of the beneficial exchange rate resulting from free market reforms which began in 1986.
The beverages sub-sector has produced some of the country's quality products, such as Bournvita, Ovaltine, Milo, Vitalo, Benco, etc. These beverages make intensive use of the country's cocoa-bean production. Intermediate stages of cocoa processing, such as cocoa butter, cake, powder and liquor, have been part of the country's traditional semi-manufactured exports.
Capacity utilization in the industry was as its lowest level, about 34 per cent, in 1988 due to the drought. Nevertheless the ratio of domestic to imported raw materials improved from 52 per cent in 1985 to 65 per cent in 1987. Since 1989, capacity utilization has averaged about 45 per cent, while the local raw material ratio has averaged 62 per cent.
History of firms in the sample
Origin, ownership and structure
Cocoa Industries Limited (CIL) is a manufacturer in the beverages sub-sector. It was incorporated in 1965 but commenced operations in 1967. It was established principally to provide jobs. A secondary reason was to add value to cocoa, which was the country's major foreign exchange earner in the period. It was at first fully owned by the government, but in 1990 40 per cent of the company's total shares were sold under the government's privatization policy. Until the late 1970s a technical partnership agreement existed with Coutinho Carrow Company (CCC) of Germany. CCC installed and ran the plant while Nigerians understudied them. Nigerianization in the late 1970s led to Nigerians taking full control.
Until 1981, CIL was only engaged in the processing of cocoa beans into the main cocoa products, primarily cocoa butter, cake and powder. In 1981, it added an instant cocoa beverage, Vitalo.
The company has a relatively simple structure composed of the board of directors, chairman and chief executive, general manager, assistant general managers, heads of departments including the company secretary, managers, including the chief engineer and chief chemist, officers, supervisors and junior staff. Management by objective is the usual practice but sometimes the principle of democracy is allowed in areas of controversy.
Intra-Fisheries Nigeria Limited (IFN) belongs to the food sub-sector. It was incorporated in 1974 but commenced operations in 1977 by importing and distributing frozen fish. It set up cold stores with a total capacity of 7 300 metric tonnes in Lagos, Jos and Warri, complemented by a large network of agents and distributors throughout the country.
Over the period 1980-87, the company successfully designed and implemented two diversification processes. In 1980, it started processing smoked fish products, and in 1987 it moved into fish trawling operations. In 1984 the company discontinued the smoked fish due to the exorbitant cost of raw materials, which was occasioned by the licensing of, and subsequent ban on, fish imports. It stopped the processing of dry fish in 1988 for the same reason.
The company equity is 60 per cent Nigerian owned and 40 per cent foreign owned. The policy board has eight members, the chairman (a Nigerian), a managing expatriate director, four other Nigerians and two expatriates based overseas. Like CIL, the company has a simple organizational structure consisting of a board chairman, board of directors, the managing director, operations controller for each of the technical and trawler divisions, and office staff distributed between the technical division, trawler division and operations.
Performance and development
CIL appears to have grown steadily over time. Sales, which remained virtually static between 1980 and 1985, grew by about 25 per cent between 1985 and 1990 and by an unprecedented 182 per cent in 1990-91. Other indicators of the growth trend are shown in Table 9.12. The general picture that emerges from the table is that of modest but by no means consistent growth in vital areas.
Table 9.12 Performance indicators for CIL
|Sales turnover (
|Net assets (
Source: Company records
Until 1981, when production of Vitalo commenced, raw cocoa beans were virtually the only raw material. However, with the. addition of Vitalo to its range of products, other inputs were added: skimmed milk powder, sugar, vitamins and minerals. malt extract syrup lecithin syrup, vanilla and egg powder.
The company has managed to preserve its prosperity by adopting a pricing policy that protects its profit level. Prices are made to reflect cost changes as much as possible. But in the period 1970 84 the Productivity, Prices and Incomes Board (PPIB) allowed only 5 per cent annual increases in selling prices although the cost of production was growing by about 11 per cent. Following the dissolution of the board in the mid-1980s, the prices of the company's products could follow the trend of cost changes. Between 1985 and 1992 prices rose in response to cost increases averaging 20 per cent annually.
This general pricing policy only applies to products focused on the domestic market. The prices of export products are exogenously determined and are usually fixed in contracts. An insurance scheme being designed by NEXIM would compensate exporters for contract losses arising from exchange rate fluctuations.
Slightly ahead of CIL, IFN appears to have witnessed modest but respectable growth. Although Table 9.13 covers only three years, it suggests that sales grew by about 3 per cent between 1980 and 1985 and by 97 per cent between 1985 and 1990. Over the same periods, total assets witnessed tremendous growth' of 416 per cent and 78.7 per cent respectively. However, employee levels experienced 114 per cent growth and then a 47 per cent decline in the corresponding periods.
Like CIL, the company protects its profit level by adopting a policy of replacement costing plus a mark-up. Thus, in 1979-80* when input costs rose by about 47 per cent, selling prices witnessed an average growth of about 50 per cent. Similarly, the 221.4 per cent and 94.4 per cent successive rises in input costs in 1985-90 and1991-92 were more than matched by increases in selling prices of 243.8 per cent and 100 per cent. Export prices are not influenced by the level of domestic inflation.
Table 9.13 Performance indicators for IFN
|Total assets (
Source: Company records
Human resources and manpower development
The manpower composition of the two companies gives some insight into the relative strength of the companies and their human resources and manpower development policies. Table 9.14 shows the distribution of ClL's employees over categories of status and skills.
Employment at virtually all levels has declined since 1980 but the decline appears less pronounced with the lower and skilled categories. The general decline would appear to reflect the realities of the harsh economic environment in which the company has been operating since the mid-1980s. The abolition of commodity boards in the 1970s, coupled with the adoption of a flexible exchange rate regime around the mid-1980s, has diverted cocoa beans to the export market and created a local scarcity. The effect has been reduced production. Another factor preventing expansion has been the uncertainty hanging over the company since 1990, when the public reacted strongly to the manner and amount of the sale of part of the company
Table 9.14 Manpower statistics of CIL
Source: Company records to some private persons. The ensuing court action has left the company starved of funds.
In spite of the labour rationalization which has apparently occurred, the company's human development policies have experienced only minor changes. On being hired, junior staff are exposed to a one-week induction programme during which they are introduced to the company's self-development programme. Under the programme, they are encouraged to register with an appropriate professional examination body, with the company footing all the costs of training and giving a post-qualification award by way of incentive. Apart from the self-development programme, junior staff undergo several in-house training courses (usually organized along functional lines, i.e. production, marketing/sales, etc.) as well as occasional outside training.
In the case of senior staff, the financial problems of the company have led it to replace all overseas training by local in-house and external training. The in-house training essentially relies on outside consultants. On average, a senior staff member in one of the major functional divisions goes on a training course once in two years.
With respect to recruitment policies and practice, vacant positions are filled as and when necessary. All positions must be approved in the relevant year's budget. Recruitment begins with internal advertisements, followed by a screening process to produce a shortlist. The process is handled internally, by the personnel department in collaboration with other relevant departments. Remuneration is by salary, with incentives such as the end-of-year bonus applied across the board and not tied to productivity. Promotion is often tied to productivity.
By industry standards, the conditions of service in the organization are fair: free lunches, occasional gifts of Vitalo, a free medical facility and fairly generous housing and transport allowances.
The human resources and manpower development of IFN appears less formidable and less structured. The company's manpower composition is shown in Table 9.15.
The major picture emerging from the table is the lack of any consistent trend. Although all levels of employment appear to have witnessed changes, the lower management level seems to have been most affected. This perhaps suggests that this level receives more attention during a rationalization process.
The company does not have any particular manpower development and training programme. Most employees are expected to come with the requisite skills, and training thus takes the form of an induction course to become familiar with the system. Staff members are occasionally sent on local seminars and short-term courses in their individual disciplines.
Table 9.15 Manpower statistics of IFN
Source: Company records
Note: These figures exclude day workers' whose number varies but never exceeds 10
Most vacant positions at senior management level and above are filled through advertisement, with the interview and testing being handled by the company's senior management, including the managing director. Below the level of senior management, most vacant positions are filled through local contacts (i.e. introductions by known people) and subcontract agreements. Subcontract agreements are the major means of securing most of the semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
The incentive system in the organization takes the form of moderate allowances for housing, meals, transport and education. There are, however, full medical facilities. Labour turnover is small and insignificant. Salary increments are usually tied to productivity but promotion is only occasionally so tied. Workers enjoy a Christmas bonus (usually, two months' salary) which is above average in Nigeria. In addition, due to the high and rising inflation experience of the country in recent times, workers who have more than 10 years' service are allowed to take up to 50 per cent of their expected total entitlement upon retirement for immediate use.
Export history and performance
ClL's export activity began when it commenced operation in 1967, with cocoa butter and cake being exported. These two products, particularly cocoa butter, remain the principal export products, although cocoa powder was given some attention in the 1970s and early 1980s. Brokers provide the main export marketing channel. The target market is the developed countries, especially Europe and the US.
It is difficult to gauge ClL's export performance accurately
because data on export sales is only available for a few years.
The data shows export sales of about
million in 1985, increasing sharply to about N4.4
million in 1986 and further to about N6.9
million in 1987 but falling successively to N3
million and N0.1 million in 1988 and 1989. Sales
recovered in the following year to about N4.3
million and reached a record of N15.1 million in
IFN's export history is relatively short. It entered the
export market only in 1991, with about $0.2 million or
million worth of export goods. The export volume grew to $1.1
million or N17 million in 1992. The items
exported include processed shrimps, lobsters and sole fillets.
The major channels are licensed agents and branches abroad while
the target markets are the developed countries of America and
Europe. At present the focus is on the US, the Netherlands,
France and Switzerland.
The market for the company's exports appears to be large and stable, given competitive pricing, so the company sees no need for aggressive marketing or sales strategies. It contracts out the export arm of its business to an affiliate company - Intercontinental Limited - which organizes shipping, appoints agents and establishes branches abroad for 'on the spot' sales and promotions. So far, the company has no misgivings about this arrangement.
External factors affecting export growth
Both CIL and IFN have several sources of funding, such as issuing share capital, borrowing and cheap funds from special finance schemes. However, the high and rising interest rate under the free market reforms make borrowing in the conventional loan market unthinkable.
Both companies have access to NEXIM's RRF, which is usually
granted at a concessional rate - about IX per cent compared to
the money market's 45 per cent. However, the RRF has a time limit
of about 90 days, after which the client is forced onto the open
market to seek funds. Clients of NEXIM are now proposing a
180-day duration for RRF so as to avoid the open market. Besides
the RRF, IFN utilized an ADB/ESL, when buying additional trawlers
in 1990/91. IFN also recently increased its share capital from
million to N10 million.
The financial position of CIL has become particularly precarious following the disagreement between the two shareholders, the holding company for the government and the new private interest. The ensuing court action, which is yet to be settled, has effectively blocked any increase in share capital. The continuously depreciating exchange rate has further increased the cost of borrowing for both firms (though indirectly). Both firms lose considerable funds through the effect of continuous currency depreciation on forward contracts, which are their principal mode of export sales.
IFN does not appear to be facing any problem with obtaining raw material, given its plan to purchase more trawlers in order to procure extra tonnage. But CIL has frequently experienced raw material shortages since the mid-1980s, due to the instability of farm-gate prices as compared to international prices. The vagaries of the weather have not helped. Most local cocoa beans are exported to gain an exchange rate advantage, which creates an artificial shortage of input locally. In reality, between September 1986 and 1989, the domestic price of cocoa beans bore no relationship to international price levels, even allowing for exchange rate depreciation. The unusual overpricing in the domestic market was unofficially attributed to capital flight. Buying at such prices was clearly uneconomical for a local user of the beans. Together with other processors of cocoa beans, the company has now proposed that government should allow imports or ban exports of the beans. In the meantime, CIL deals with this deficiency in three ways:
1 competitive production and farm-gate pricing
2 stockpiling, subject to funds being available
3 strategic price-setting for the international market
Labour market conditions
High and rising inflation causes wages to rise frequently, which flow on to the cost of production. CIL has recently been experiencing an increase in labour turnover' especially in its engineering and production departments, because newly established processing companies see it as a source for technical staff. Apart from the occasional operational effect of the loss of such skilled workers, this has been costing the company money and time in recruiting and training new hands.
The present exchange rate regime is very volatile, which makes forward contracts very risky. To counterbalance this, both companies are requesting that the government establish a price insurance scheme similar to that proposed by NEXIM. Such an insurance scheme would compensate exporting companies for losses incurred on forward contracts because of the fluctuating exchange rate. Given its peculiar situation, CIL also suggests a possible return of the Commodity (cocoa) Board which once served to stabilize cocoa prices locally by announcing fixed buying prices at the beginning of each year. CIL also often encounters problems of access to foreign exchange on the official market because of rationing and hoarding by banks. However, it has a foreign currency domiciliary account into which its export receipts are paid and from which authorized payments are made.
Technology, marketing, investment, productivity and human resources
Characteristics of demand in target market and managerial responses
Both CIL and IFN operate in a buyer's market and so are price takers in their export markets. CIL considers that there is an infinite demand for cocoa butter around the world, with no risk of sudden adverse price movements. IFN's market is described as large and stable' with competitive pricing.
Faced with this market condition, neither company uses demand to plan production. They deal primarily on the basis of letters of credit and forward contracts. They both hope to eliminate the disadvantages inherent in these modes of selling, given the continuous depreciation of the local currency, by means of the price insurance scheme which was discussed earlier.
In the area of interaction with customers, CIL relies on the fact that most of its foreign customers? like itself, belong to the International Cocoa Organization (ICO), which vets each member's integrity and credibility. Locally, organizations such as the Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria (COPAN) and the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) serve as forums for interaction.
IFN interacts rather differently. Operating through its affiliate company, Intercontinental Limited, its exports are mainly to its agents in the USA, who are responsible for the development of new markets and have done rather well in penetrating the European market. All the company's export products are marketed under the group's brand name, 7 PRIMSTAR.
IFN participates, along with the group, in most European trade fairs, and its products are well known and widely accepted. The company considers that its newly acquired trawlers will be able to process its products to the European market's requirements.
Investment strategy and capability
The basic strategies of the two companies are similar, focusing on profitability calculations using techniques such as net present value internal rate of return, annual rate of return and the payback approach. Feasibility studies, which are usually handled by their staff, cover issues such as finance, project cost, manpower demand and government policy. In recent years IFN has been focusing exclusively on short-term investment (at most, five years) because of the volatile nature of the economy. It has also been involved in some diversification such as the processing and export of rubber.
ClL's investment continues to be in cocoa processing. The management board usually initiates any new proposal.
Technology and productivity
ClL's production technology is basically European, since that is the source of the equipment. Cocoa cake and powder are often processed to the customer's colour requirements through alkalization. The introduction of nib alkalization (i.e. adding more chemicals to the manufacturing process) has allowed greater colour manipulation. The latest product of the company, Vitalo, is produced by a spray-drying process.
The plant is repaired and maintained locally by the company's technical division. CIL has no formal link with its former technical partners and so does not enjoy any expert advice on technical matters. Some spares have been fabricated locally to reduce the need for imports.
Access to finance, skills, technology and foreign exchange is not a problem but purchasing power is. Open market funds, including foreign exchange, are exorbitantly expensive in the context of the on-going liberalization drive. The company has resorted to leasing factory equipment to solve the problem of obsolescence and worn-out machines but has found the high leasing costs a major strain on its finances.
Productivity in CIL is usually measured in terms of output per unit of labour. It compares favourably with other firms in the food and beverages industry. Its brand of cocoa butter (Oba Brand) is renowned for good quality in the international market, while its beverage (Vitalo) is well received and enjoys a good share of the local market. CIL measures the efficiency of its labour force in terms of productivity per person, compared to set targets. Factory workers' performances are assessed in groups. Incentives are limited to promotion and productivity bonuses.
With IFN, the product technology employed basically centres on sea products such as sole, crab legs, whole lobsters and lobster tails, and shrimps of various sizes and processed in various ways. Until 1988, different process technologies were used for smoked, dried and frozen fish and shrimps. With the end of smoked fish processing in 1984 and dried fish processing in 1988, only the freezing technology remains. The process technology of the company is European and it is reputed to be the industry standard. Virtually all the machinery and equipment involved in the production process is imported from Europe. The plant is, however, repaired and maintained locally, usually by subcontract agreements with Nigerian companies.
The company is a leader in the industry and does not encounter problems in accessing technical skills and technology. It has been experiencing problem of access to finance (due to exorbitant cost) and foreign exchange but has coped with this thanks to the ADB/ESL finance and share issues.
IFN does not use any particular index for productivity measurement. The company concerns itself only with the picture at the end of a budget period (the total output approach). Workers have predetermined tasks which they are expected to accomplish. Output is not directly related to workers' tasks. Productivity incentives are limited to salary increments and occasionally to promotion.
Production linkages and subcontracting
In the days of the cocoa board, the CIL used to have licensed suppliers of cocoa beans, since in most cases the selling price of any particular grade of cocoa beans was fixed and common knowledge. However, since the abolition of the board and the move to a market economy, such agreements are no longer respected by suppliers, who sell to the highest bidder on the open market. Since its inception the CIL has been involved in contract processing. It sometimes contracts its processing to other firms, when it is having problems with insufficient production lines for urgent orders but more often it processes for other producers for a fee. This has been occurring more often recently, to utilize the excess capacity occasioned by the drastic reduction in the scale of its operations as a result of poor funding.
In contrast, IFN sources a great proportion of its raw materials directly through its trawling operations. As a result, it does not have any binding agreement with material suppliers. In addition, it completely processes all its output and no production capacity problems have yet emerged. In fact, with the discontinuation of smoked fish and dried fish in 1984 and 1988 respectively, there appears to be ample space for the expansion of production capacity for existing products. So far, it has not engaged in any form of subcontracting of production.
The ClL's innovation strategy takes the form of management control and resource and product development. Management deals with external factors as they affect the company. Performance evaluation is carried out by various levels of management and often leads to new standards or targets. Innovative efforts may be rewarded with promotion, recognition and productivity bonuses. One example of the product development element of innovation is the design and development of Vitalo. The idea behind Vitalo was to find a use for the company's excess cocoa powder. CIL sponsored research to determine consumers' preferences and discovered that the granulated beverage was more popular with consumers than a powdered form, and Vitalo is therefore produced in granulated form.
In contrast to CIL, innovation strategy at IFN combines raw materials' sourcing, product mix and new product development. Following the institution of an 'import-discouraging exchange rate policy' in the country, the company had to look to Nigerian sources for part of its fish requirements. It discovered that a large part of its imports could be sourced locally.
The product mix strategy takes the form of the combination of particular products to satisfy the needs of a particular segment of its export market. With new product development, the company explores its export market to identify niches to penetrate with a new product. For example, crab is plentiful in Nigerian waters: through such a search the company discovered that crab legs and crab meat have good export potential. Rewards for innovative effort are similar to those for productivity, i.e. normally in the form of salary increments, with promotion coming only occasionally.
This study has documented the management, organization and processing of manufactured exports in five Nigerian firms distributed over the textile, brewing and food and beverages industries. The problems and prospects of manufactured exports have been highlighted and discussed. Most of the firms covered in the study were found to have only short export histories. Similarities among firms are noted in the areas of management practices, cooperation within the individual company's industry and with competitors, investment strategy, pricing policy, innovation strategy and environmental problems. In contrast, significant differences occur in the areas of organizational structure, ownership structure, financing mode, production strategy and capability, marketing strategy, human resources development policy and patterns of linkages.
In general, the major strength of most of the firms appears to lie in strong internal control processes, the use of new production technologies and the careful choice and impressive performance of marketing agents. However, problems appear to exist in the areas of the quality of production, the adequacy of financing, access to foreign exchange and bureaucratic and official control, thus creating a wide scope for official intervention on the part of both the national government and the international community.
Appendix: the incidence of leasing in Nigeria
Origin and growth
Leasing as a mode of business finance began in Nigeria in the
early 1960s, with the first documented transactions occurring as
cross-border leases between Nigerian companies and their UK
holding companies. Following the stringent exchange control
measures introduced at the onset of the Nigerian civil war in
1966, this relatively low-level leasing business apparently
ceased altogether. Activities resumed after the war as the
massive post-war reconstruction efforts saw construction
companies considering financial options in capital acquisition
programmes. Growth in the industry has been particularly strong
since the advent of free market reforms in late 1986. At the
beginning of this period a few merchant banks such as the
International Merchant Bank, Continental Merchant Bank and
Nigerian Acceptances Limited, enjoyed market domination. The
market has now expanded to accommodate well over 300 lessors. The
Equipment Leasing Association of Nigeria (ELAN), which was formed
in 1983, today represents about 85 of the most influential
leasing companies (as at December 1991), including the
financially powerful merchant banks. In 1986, the total assets on
lease by ELAN members were worth about
million. By 1991, total assets leased had risen to N895.8
million. This is, however, only about 42 per cent of the total N2
billion in outstanding leased assets in the country as at
The tremendous growth in the industry in recent times has attracted the attention of the authorities and institutional regulation has begun. One example is the Statement on Accounting Standards (SAS 11) issued by the Nigerian Accounting Standard Board (NASB) in 1991 to guide the reporting format (information disclosure) in the industry.
Products on offer
Both finance and operating leases are offered. Virtually all registered banks and a sizeable proportion of non-bank finance houses offer finance leases. Almost any equipment can be leased under this arrangement, with the lease rentals structured to pay back the cost of equipment fully during the primary period. Operating lease arrangements are not as common and have come to be associated with specialized equipment. Apart from the big-time equipment suppliers such as Leventis, Mandillas and Rank Xerox, a few merchant banks and finance houses operate in this segment of the market. Under this arrangement, the lease rentals are usually not expected to cover the cost of equipment during the primary period.
The enormous growth between 1986 and 1991 suggests a very
large domestic market for leased equipment. Total capital asset
financing in the country in 1992 was over
billion, yet the recorded lease portfolio was only about N5
billion (i.e. 17 per cent of the total). Participants in the
market find leasing more attractive than conventional loans for a
variety of reasons. On the one hand, banks find leasing
relatively safer than straight credit advances and have been
increasing their exposure in the market. On the other hand, the
increasing cost of credit in the deregulated loan market coupled
with the effect of the steep currency depreciation on the cost of
imported equipment has discouraged many firms from attempting
outright asset purchase. It remains difficult to guess the future
growth direction in the industry. Recent government provisions
have tended to reduce or eliminate altogether the incentives to
lessors. For example, as of January 1991, the CBN directed that
leasing should count towards banks' aggregate credit volume and
almost simultaneously the NASB's SAS 11 ruled that finance leases
are not leases and therefore banks as lessors should not claim
capital allowances on leased equipment. The capital allowances
had previously been a major incentive. However, if the recorded
naira value of leased contracts for 1992 ( N5
billion, as compared to N2 billion in 1991) is
anything to go by, the effects of these developments are yet to
manifest themselves in reduced transaction volumes.
Funding of leased contracts is basically from own resources. Some banks offer leasing contracts in the form of concessionary financing which involves the use of funds from multilateral agencies such as USAID, KU, ADB, NERFUND (the National Economic Recovery Fund), SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) programme, or World Bank Health Programmes.
Distribution of finance
Of the ELAN member's exposure of about
million in 1991, manufacturing accounted for 52.3 per cent,
transport for 27.1 per cent, agriculture for 4.8 per cent,
services for 5.1 per cent, government for 0.9 per cent and others
(small equipment for the construction, mining, printing and
confectionery industries) for 9.8 per cent.
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