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SME Guide

Producing Irresistible Snacks: How to Start a Successful Plantain and Potato Chips Business in Nigeria

The potato and plantain chips processing industry in Nigeria presents immense business opportunities, fueled by rising demand for convenient, affordable, and appealing snacks. This comprehensive guide explores the step-by-step process of establishing a successful plantain and potato chips operation in Nigeria to capitalise on this growing market.

Conducting feasibility studies

Evaluating Existing Demand and Competition

  • Research consumer snacking preferences, flavours, packaging needs, etc. through surveys and focus groups.
  • Analyse current and projected demand for chips across geographic regions and consumer segments.
  • Assess competition from large players, SMEs, and imports in target locations.
  • Estimate annual production quantities based on demand gap analysis.

Determining Operational Requirements

  • Identify suitable locations proximate to raw material sources and target markets.
  • Determine land, utilities, equipment, labour, and regulatory needs.
  • Develop capacity plans (production volumes, shift work strategies, etc.).
  • Project costs for set-up and working capital requirements.

Analysing Financial Viability

  • Estimate the capital investment needed for land, buildings, machinery, etc.
  • Forecast variable and fixed costs: raw materials, labour, utilities, maintenance, etc.
  • Project revenue potential based on product pricing and expected sales.
  • Conduct break-even analysis, ROI projections, and sensitivity analysis.

Selecting Location and Facility Design

Location Factors

  • Proximity to raw material farms and suppliers
  • Closeness to target consumer markets
  • Availability of labour, power, water, and transportation
  • Ease of regulatory compliance and licencing
  • Incentives from state and local governments

Facility Layout

  • Flow patterns and material movement between raw material acceptance, processing, packaging, storage, and dispatch areas
  • Efficiency of layout to minimise handling costs and time.
  • Space allocation for current and future capacity expansion.
  • Worker safety and compliance with food safety and hygiene regulations

Key Infrastructure and Amenities

  • Sufficient potable water and power supply arrangements
  • Changing rooms, washrooms, and locker rooms for workers
  • Rodent/pest control systems.
  • Proper drainage and waste disposal systems.
  • Backup generators and fire safety systems.

Sourcing Raw Materials

Plantain Supply Management

  • Assess plantain varieties suitable for chip processing based on maturity, texture, etc.
  • Identify and establish contracts with trusted plantain farmers or cooperatives.
  • Schedule supplies to account for plantain harvesting seasons.
  • Optimal post-harvest handling and storage to control ripening and prevent spoilage

Potato Procurement

  • Select chipping potato varieties like Lady Rosetta, Hertha, and Valour based on dry matter content.
  • Source directly from reputable potato farmers or traders.
  • Strict qualitative analysis of the crop for defects, sugars, size, etc.
  • Avoid potatoes that have been stored for an extended period of time.

Managing Seasonal Raw Material Shortages

  • Plan expanded procurement and inventory buildup during peak harvesting periods.
  • Install controlled-atmosphere storage to extend the shelf life of raw materials.
  • Supplement with imports when required to meet demand.
  • Offer crop cultivation training and inputs to farmers for higher yields.

Product Development and Quality Control

Creating Irresistible Chip Flavours and Textures

  • Market research on consumer flavour preferences (regional tastes, global trends, etc.)
  • Invest extensively in R&D to perfect seasoning blends and achieve flavour consistency.
  • Focus on key texture attributes: crunch, shear force, and bulk density.
  • Consider health-focused options like low-salt, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Packaging Innovations

  • Consumer-friendly options like single-serve pouches and resealable bags
  • Attention-grabbing graphics and branding on packets
  • Material innovations to maintain freshness and prevent crumbling.

Rigorous quality control testing

  • Raw material inspection (moisture content, slicing quality, etc.)
  • Process controls to meet food safety norms.
  • Shelf-life studies under different storage conditions
  • Regular equipment calibration and maintenance
  • Final product testing for taste, texture, and packaging integrity

Production Operations

Plantain Chip Processing

  • Cleaning and peeling of plantains
  • Slicing is done using hand slicers or mechanical systems.
  • Frying at optimal temperature and duration
  • Seasoning as per flavour profile requirements
  • Draining excess oil and cooling
  • Weighing and packaging

Potato Chip Production

  • Washing, peeling, and size-grading of potatoes
  • Slicing is done uniformly using high-speed machines.
  • Frying at precise combinations of time and temperature
  • Salting, seasoning, and flavouring
  • Inspection, weighing, and packaging

Efficiency Optimisation

  • Automated production line installations.
  • Training workers in process best practices.
  • Line balancing to eliminate bottlenecks.
  • Changeover procedures for flexibility.
  • Preventive maintenance programmes.
  • Process data collection and analysis.

Equipment selection and maintenance

Critical machinery and tools

  • Peelers, washers, slicers, conveyors, fryers, oil filters, seasoners, weighers, sealers, generators, etc.

Key Considerations

  • Production capacity, throughput rate, and versatility
  • Safety features, ease of operation, and maintenance.
  • Energy efficiency, temperature, and process controls.
  • Global certifications and compliance with regulations.
  • Vendor reputation and after-sales service quality.

Maintenance Best Practices

  • Tracking equipment utilisation rates.
  • schedule preventive maintenance routines.
  • Prompt breakdown repairs
  • Worker training in troubleshooting and maintenance
  • Spare parts inventory management
  • Upgrades and replacements are based on condition monitoring.

Product branding and marketing

Building a memorable brand

  • Research and select a creative, catchy brand name and logo.
  • Register trademarks to protect intellectual property.
  • Foster emotional connection through appealing packaging and messaging.

Sales and distribution

  • Leverage existing retail distribution networks and CPG warehouses.
  • Growth via modern trade (supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores)
  • Online sales platforms and partnerships with e-commerce players
  • Van sales for maintaining availability across mom-and-pop outlets.

Promotions and advertising

  • Mass media campaigns (TV, radio, print, outdoor signage)
  • Targeted digital marketing: SEO, social media, influencer engagement
  • Consumer promotions: free samples, couponing, contests, etc.
  • Trade promotions for retailers: discounts, merchandising support.

Financial planning and investment

Estimating capital investment needs

  • Land purchase or long lease.
  • Facility construction or leasing costs.
  • Process equipment purchase and installation expenses.
  • Auxiliary equipment like generators, cold rooms, etc.
  • Operating capital buffer for the first few months.

Financing Options

  • Bootstrapping and personal equity injection
  • Debt financing via business loans from banks
  • Private equity investment by HNIs or institutional investors
  • Government small business grants and incentives
  • Crowdfunding comes from multiple individual investors.

Managing cash flows

  • Budgeting and controlling material, labour, utility, and other costs.
  • Setting optimal production, inventory, and sales levels.
  • Extending supplier credit but improving debtor turnover
  • Drawing loans judiciously aligned to investments.
  • Building working capital reserves to handle fluctuations.

Regulatory Requirements and Licencing

Registration and incorporation

  • Business name search and reservation
  • Filing company incorporation documents with the CAC
  • Applying for operational permits from state and local agencies

Food Safety and Hygiene Licencing

  • NAFDAC registration and plant inspection
  • Standard Organisation of Nigeria certification
  • Health and hygiene clearances

Tax and Export Registration

  • Income tax, VAT, and other tax registrations
  • Exporter code allocation by NEPC
  • NESREA clearance for environmental sustainability

Other Requirements

  • Trademark registration
  • Worker insurance and compensation policies

Human Resource Management

Key skills and roles

  • Food scientists for R&D
  • Process/chemical engineers for production management
  • Mechanical and electrical engineers for maintenance
  • Supply chain managers for raw material procurement
  • Marketing and sales professionals
  • Floor supervisors and machine operators
  • Support staff for ancillary processes.

Worker training and development

  • Technical skills training in process operations, safety protocols, etc.
  • Good manufacturing practices and hygiene awareness
  • Soft skills like teamwork, quality focus, and problem-solving
  • Leadership training for managers and supervisors
  • Performance management and capability development

Creating a productive work culture

  • Fair compensation benchmarked to industry averages
  • A safe, pleasant, and rewarding work environment
  • Recognition programmes to motivate workers
  • Fostering teamwork, open communication, and creativity
  • Hiring cultural fit and a shared vision for success


The growing consumer demand for plantains and potato chips in Africa’s largest economy presents a lucrative business opportunity. With extensive planning, strategic operational investments, consistent high quality, creative brand building, and effective people management, SMEs can establish highly profitable and scalable chip processing ventures in Nigeria. The time is right to turn local crops into irresistible, crunchy snacks.

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