Sequel to BRANDPOWER’s EXCLUSIVE report last week on the discovery by NAFDAC that 91.1% of tomato paste available in Nigerian markets were substandard, Nigeria’s leading producer of tomato paste, Erisco Foods Limited, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, invited the members of the media to their factory and demonstrated the 100% natural quality of their flagship tomato paste brands with RIC-GIKO leading the pack.
Chief Eric Umeofia, the managing director and CEO of Erisco Foods explained that “after several unannounced inspections by NAFDAC, Erisco Foods Limited has been awarded the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) Certificate”. Ric-Giko has been certified by NAFDAC and SON (Standard Organisation of Nigeria) as the tomato paste of high quality and has met all standards and specifications set by both agencies.
Describing Erisco Foods as the home of good nutrition, Chief Umeofia declared that Ric-Giko tomato paste is therefore certified excellent for consumption in Nigeria and the world as a whole. He explained further: “A wholesome, natural tomato paste should be dark-red. The light-red coloured tomato pastes which are eye-catching and cheaper, are actually full of synthetic colouring and poses great danger to the health of consumers”.
To further demonstrate the world-class quality of the RIC-GIKO brand, Chief Umeofia opened samples of tomato paste imported from the USA and South Africa along with a substandard one imported from China. The result was crystal clear as the colour, taste, thickness and consistency of the South African Harvest brand and the US’ Hunt brand were the same as RIC-GIKO’s while the fake tomato from China was evidently different in colour, consistency, thickness and even taste.
He continued: “RIC-GIKO tomato paste is, today, our flagship brand. We began operations in 2009, producing and marketing our first brand of Tomato Paste in sachets named Nagiko. Soon after, we introduced RIC-GIKO. We currently have three brands of tomato pastes in a range of 5 tins and sachets. RIC-GIKO comes in two variants: the classic which is only tomato paste while the other is a blend of tomato and pepper paste…Our goal is to be a one-stop provider of healthy food variants for Nigerian families.
“Erisco Foods has an installed factory capacity of 240, 000 metric tonnes per annum (first phase) in Oregun, Lagos state. Ours is the first of its kind and largest tomato paste factory in Africa. Apart from producing and packaging our own range of products in sachets and a range of 5 can size options, our production capacity is providing genuine importers, packagers and bulk traders of tomato paste the opportunity to start getting their products processed and packaged right here in Nigeria without the pains of procuring scarce foreign exchange to import packaged tomato paste from Europe and Asia.
Chief Eric Umeofia said that Erisco Foods has initiated a backward integration programme which includes massive cultivation of tomatoes in selected states across Nigeria. This will be achieved through the establishment of plantations and special farmers’ co-operatives.
Chief Umeofia however regretted that “ while patriotic Nigerian investors like Erisco Foods are busy working very hard to create employment and providing value for Nigerians through wholesome nutritious brands like our RIC-GIKO tomato paste, a group of Asians and their Nigerian collaborators have been killing Nigerians by selling them starch and colouring in the name of Tomato paste. Reports from a NAFDAC survey revealed that such colouring are carcinogenic and therefore unfit for human consumption. Apart from the cancer-causing colouring, the starch contained in those products is clearly harmful to unsuspecting diabetic patients. This, the importers have been doing by luring unsuspecting Nigerians with banned synthetic colouring agents which are eye-catching and other substandard ingredients and with sell at cheap prices! However, it has been established that the more red your food is via substandard tomato paste, the more you endanger your life and that of your family”.
The Erisco Foods CEO threw more light on what the properties of good tomato paste:
“Wholesome tomato paste such as RIC-GIKO is also a rich source of Lycopene, a photochemical with many possible health benefits and a natural pigment that gives many red fruits and vegetables their colour. It has been scientifically proven that Lycopene contains a potent antioxidant that stabilizes free radicals making them harmless and helping the body to dispose of them thereby reducing the risks of cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). However, firstly, the substandard tomato paste contain little or no Lycopene and secondly, the banned colouring used by importers of deadly tomato paste are most times impossible to dispose of from the body. The colourings therefore stick to veins, arteries and vital organs and accumulate to cause cancer, hyper-tension and other diseases. In addition, the banned colouring agents have been proven to cause poor neurological development in children; causing hyperactivity, poor concentration and, hence, poor performance in education and progress in life.
Apart from killing Nigerians with their substandard tomato paste, these people are also killing the Nigerian economy as they dump these substandard tomato pastes with subsidies from their home government. In the end, genuine manufacturers of tomato pastes find it difficult to remain in business as the consumers unfortunately go for this perceived cheaper tomato paste brands, not knowing they are paying for ill health and untimely death. Nigerians are advised to patronize only made-in-Nigeria Food products as manufacturers such as us are always closely monitored by the regulatory agencies unlike imported and smuggled brands that play all manner of tricks to evade regulation, maximize profits and push killer ‘tomato pastes’ into the country. As a company run by a board and management who have the fear of God and good conscience, Erisco Foods has consistently refrained from such evil practice as we consider such profits “Blood Money”. That is why Nigerians should always trust us for good quality.
It is pertinent to note that the substandard tomato paste dumped in Nigerian cannot be allowed for sale or consumption in US, EU, India, Asia and even in China. It is so unfortunate and wicked that they should turn Nigeria into a dumping ground for such unwholesome food products.
Clearly, what Nigerians have been indulging in concerning tomato paste is: “penny wise; pound foolish” as it is better to buy genuine tomato paste at a slightly higher price and enjoy the full 100% health benefits of tomatoes rather than pay for coloured starch which are passed off as tomato paste. A little RIC-GIKO goes a long way. Nigerians must liberate themselves from this food fraud by saying “NO” to imported China tomato paste and “YES” to Nigerian tomato paste such as RIC-GIKO, Nagiko and Erisco.
We are using this medium to declare our unflinching support to NAFDAC and SON on their cleansing effort to wipe all fake and substandard tomato pastes out of Nigeria with immediate effect. At Erisco Foods, we have the capacity to provide all the tomato paste needs of the Nigerian market and even across West Africa.
We therefore call on governments at the federal and state levels as well as Nigerian consumers to encourage and patronize indigenous local manufacturers, especially in the food sector as Tomato paste is consumed by all; including Mr. President and his family down to ordinary Nigerians. This can be achieved by adopting appropriate attitude, policies and tariff structure to encourage local production and discourage indiscriminate dangerous imports into the country and engender food security for Nigerians, by Nigerians.
Erisco Foods’ investments in the manufacturing sector is in full endorsement and support of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda under the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDP) which are both geared towards achieving Nigeria’s lofty industrialization goals. We will generate direct and indirect employment of over 50,000 within the next 3 years and with the envisioned continuous execution of the right policies the food and agro-allied industry will ultimately generate millions of jobs.”
Erisco Foods vision is to be one of the largest indigenous Nigerian manufacturers of food products while our mission is to produce and package quality products for everyday use.
Erisco Foods Limited is a member of Erisco Bonpet Group which introduced the very popular Erisco Bonpet Automatic Fire Extinguisher in 1995. We have since changed the face of fire prevention in Nigeria and helped save Nigerian economy billions of Naira from preventable fire incidents.
Chief Umeofia thanked millions of Nigerians who have already discovered the high quality of RIC-GIKO tomato paste and for their unflinching faith in the Erisco brands from inception by patronizing and consuming Erisco Foods products while he urged other Nigerians to try RIC-GIKO for great tasting meals, good health and a buoyant economy for Nigeria. He concluded by saying that: We assure you that our quality will never change, neither shall we ever change our principle for the over-all benefit of Nigerians and mankind.”