Wheat makes up majority of Nigerian imports from the United States, as agricultural products take precedence.
Nigeria has faced persistent issues with food security, despite agriculture being one of the drivers of the nation’s economy. The sector contributes 25.58 per cent of the nation’s real GDP. However, the sector’s growth rate of 1.88 per cent in 2022 is lower than 2021’s 2.13 per cent. Food inflation has regularly exceeded core inflation rates; as of December 2022, food inflation was 23.75 per cent, surpassing that of all items at 21.34 per cent. When considering a 12-month average, the rates stood at 20.94 per cent for all items inflation of 18.49 per cent.
These may indicate that the country’s food demand is outstripping its supply. Low performance can be attributed to factors such as high costs of agricultural inputs, flood incidences in some of the country’s most important food production areas, insecurity, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. High production costs stem from both scarcity of fuel and high energy costs. Stem borer infestation affects crops along the entire production chain, from cultivation to post-harvest storage, and financial support is weak for farmers.
Many of the country's most popular foods are wheat-based foods such as bread, noodles, and pasta. Despite Nigerians being inclined to shift consumption from these wheat-based products to other foods, consumption remains high in the country. The capacity of wheat millers in the country remains low, and as such the country is forced to import. As such, wheat is the third most imported item in the country after petrol and gas oil, accounting for 3.68 per cent of the total value of goods imported into the country
Russia was one of the country’s major sources of wheat, but Black Sea shipments have declined since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. Wheat imports from the European Union and South America – specifically Argentina – have risen to replace lost Russian supply. The United States has always been one of the major sources of wheat imports, and the product makes up 77 per cent of Nigeria’s ten largest exports from the North American country.
Food preparations are also a major import product from the U.S., with a volume of 4,526 metric tonnes. These are primarily shelf-ready, easy-to-cook foods such as pastries, pasta, dough mixes, chocolate, and confectionery. Demand for these foods tends to rise with income growth and urbanization, but also due to an increase in work times leaving workers less inclined to spend time making an elaborate meal after a long workday. Therefore, imported prepared foods are convenient and provide variety.
Increasing urbanization means that the import of food preparations has seen a remarkable 137% ten-year growth, with 2022’s import figure of US$24.36 million surpassing the $16.98 million ten-year average. Fish and seafood make up the second-largest imported product from the United States by volume. Nigeria imported 9,443 metric tons of fish, mainly mackerel, herring, and croaker.
Dairy products are another highly imported agricultural product from the United States. Supply does not match demand despite milk consumption levels that are far below the global average – the Food and Agriculture Administration estimates that Nigeria’s per capita milk consumption is 8 litres per year, well below the global average of around 44. This is mainly due to the Nigerian dairy industry being mainly subsistence-based, with an absence of facilities for processing products such as skimmed milk powder.