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Reducing waste, enabling sustainable consumption: the time has come


Happy New Year 2023. The holiday season has seen a significant consumption rate across the country in the consumer goods sector. On a larger scale, the use of the sachet has dominated the retail industry in many parts of Africa, but most significantly in Nigeria, where the population is high and the demand for consumer goods is huge. The level of plastic waste and sachet production is extremely high, and we could have a big problem with that if this trend continues to rise without proper regulation. Since pouched products, or single-serving packages as they are normally referred to in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, dominate the retail landscape, the increase in the use was alarming. In colloquial terms, the model is called “sachetization” which is known to have started in Nigeria in the 90s with the manufacture of small sachets of drinking water (pure water) and Cowbell milk powder by Promasidor.

Then, the idea was necessitated by innovation to penetrate the wider low-income or no-income population. However, the idea later encountered intense and fierce competition. Today, the literature suggests that over 60 million units of pure water are consumed daily in Nigeria, along with tons of other bagged products. From take-out food packs to carry bags, beverages, cooking ingredients and household cleaning products.

The bag trend has continued to grow due to declining income levels, widespread hardship and increasing poverty among the population. These have undoubtedly caused the growing adoption of sachets in the country recently. For businesses, the challenging operating environment, dilapidated infrastructure, continued inflation, porous borders and declining bulk consumption have further increased the need to adopt the sachet model. Individuals and businesses alike are feeling the brunt of economic challenges and, over time, consumer disposable income continues to decline. Besides the consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the economy in recent times has continued to worsen the situation.

They significantly erode the purchasing power of many individuals, households and even businesses. The current economic situation has also made products and services more expensive nationwide. In fact, many manufacturing companies are seeing a drop in footfall for large items, as not everyone can afford to buy in bulk or in regular packages, and consumers continue to seek out cheaper alternatives. So, “baggage” is a business strategy and an alternative to continued customer engagement during this difficult time. The idea is to make the products affordable for consumers, especially the majority of daily earners who make up a large part of the country’s population.

Many businesses, in this time of high inflation and economic uncertainty, have decided to adopt the “sachetization” model to give some of the poorest people in Nigeria easy access to household essentials and for patronage continuous in the space of consumer goods. Also, for businesses this time, it’s a way to increase sales to customers who can’t afford to buy in larger quantities. Even though the pouch model reduces waste through portion control, it requires minimal packaging materials, less storage, low shipping and transportation costs, and most importantly, it is user-friendly. final. However, the painful truth and revelation is that this trend is an indication of unsustainable consumption, income inequality, unaffordability and the wide gap between haves and have-nots, the declining economy and high level of poverty in the country. Rightly, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in the report “2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria”, points out that 40% of the total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the poverty line in the country. . This figure even seems underestimated, in my opinion, for lack of data on the extremely vast informal sector of the country. However, these bagged products allow the country’s poor to have access to essential household products but compromise sustainable consumption and the environment.

From the observation, there is hardly any market leading FMCG company in Nigeria that has not manufactured single serving packaging (bag product) to appeal to poor consumers. To support the adoption of this model, the various operators of open markets in the country unknowingly practice the bag model on perishables, vegetables and foodstuffs freely. All this for economic reasons and the decline in consumer purchasing power. Regular essential consumables that are noticeable in the sachet are milk, detergent, cooking oil, cereal, margarine, liqueur, pepper mix (pepper, tomatoes and onions), toothpaste, sugar, tomato sauce, shampoo, cornflakes, seasoning/spices, cookies, washing up liquid, shaving sticks, cereal, bleach, Lipton sachet with only two tea bags, diaper sachet with only two units, sanitizer and energy drink among others.

Based on the sampled opinion, this bag trend is on the rise in an effort for companies to continue to grow market share, increase market penetration, and stay competitive. The important thing is that the trend is becoming more and more popular, and even premium brands are included in the growing wave. This trend encourages quick selling and increases the competitiveness of consumer goods, where affordability is a big issue. Importantly, companies should note that the population of poor people in the country continues to grow, indicating that those unwilling to follow the bag trend may find themselves out of business. Given the country’s economic difficulties, the trend is beneficial in terms of sponsorship, sales and business continuity. The sachet model is undoubtedly on the increase in the country, and it is currently a winning strategy to sell what a large percentage of the population can afford.

All said that the points raised above are not intended to completely justify “sachetization” as a business strategy, but also to implore business and government to promote measures to improve sustainable consumption, clean production and the circular economy to reduce multidimensional poverty, which can include food security. , housing, health, education and security which have a direct impact on the well-being of the population. The big problem is that most plastic bags are currently not recycled and reused. Therefore, government strategies and policies for sustainable development should be strengthened to involve waste management, environmental management, pollution and recycling, and socio-economic plans should be put in place to promote recycling and save the environment. This should be a priority now. Therefore, key policies and measures to encourage proper waste management and recycling in the country should also be considered to avoid huge environmental pollution.

In conclusion, the observation indicates that “sachetization” is now more of a necessity than an option in the country due to increased deprivation in a myriad of aspects of life. The country’s telecommunications and some real estate companies are exploring the sachet model with various smart pack (sachet) products with daily payment options. Above all, it is not even out of place to mention that just like these companies and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), the financial sector – banks, insurance and investment management companies and even operators Cable television companies can “baggage” to make services more accessible and affordable to the masses. However, leveraging innovation, sustainable production and technology will be of great importance to achieve this. Good luck!

Dr Olubiyi writes from Lagos by email: [email protected]





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