5 Products You Can Get From Nigerian Cocoa

Nigerian cocoa is gotten from the Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). These trees are short and evergreen, shedding their leaves all year round. Although they are native to the Amazon basin, Cacoa trees are now commercially grown in parts of Asia and Africa including Nigeria.

Nigeria is the fourth-largest producer of cocoa in the world, churning out over 389,272 tonnes of the product per year. It is majorly grown in Ondo, Ogun, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states.


Nigerian cocoa is highly versatile. There are a lot of products that can be derived from it. These include:

Chocolate

Chocolate is the most popular product derived from cocoa. Its sweet taste, delightful flavour and the smooth mouthfeel has made it a favourite delicacy for many. It is eaten on its own as a snack or prepared into foods like cakes, pastries, sauces and so on.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which are seeds of the Cacao tree. The seeds undergo a fermentation process to get rid of its naturally bitter taste and build the desired flavour. They are kept in a warm and moist environment which promotes the growth of natural yeast and bacteria that causes fermentation.

After this is done, the beans are dried to prevent fungal contamination. They are then cleaned and allowed to roast evenly in a dry roast machine. After roasting, the shells (hulls) of the cocoa beans are removed to produce the nibs. These nibs are then ground to form a fine powder called cocoa mass. This is the purest form of chocolate.

The cocoa mass is liquefied by heating into cocoa liquor which has cocoa solids and cocoa butter in almost equal proportions. Cocoa liquor has a deep brown colour with a rich, bitter taste. The unique flavour, aroma and the addictive characteristic of chocolate are attributed to the cocoa liquor.

To make the various forms of chocolate eaten today, cocoa liquor is blended with varying amounts of cocoa butter, sugar added vegetable oils and milk. Chocolate, especially the dark variety is high in antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavenols. These antioxidants reverse the damage done by free radicals in the body. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease if consumed in moderation.

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is one of the components of cocoa liquor. It is a pale-yellow solid with a melting point that is just below the temperature of the human body. Cocoa butter is extracted from cocoa liquor by cold pressing the liquor to separate its fatty content from the non-fatty cocoa solids.

This butter is edible and is used in the manufacture of chocolate. It can also be used in the preparation of dishes that call for any type of oil as it lends that distinctive cocoa flavour and aroma to foods.

Besides its culinary uses, cocoa butter is heavily used in cosmetic products. Its high-fat content makes it a good choice of moisturizer as it seals moisture into the skin It is also said to have healing and anti-ageing benefits on the skin.

Cocoa Powder

After cocoa butter has been extracted from cocoa liquor, the remnant is defatted cocoa called cocoa cake. A cocoa cake can be ground to form cocoa powder. This powder is used in making cocoa/chocolate-based products such as chocolate drinks and chocolate desserts like cakes and ice cream. It is also used in making brownies, chocolate sauces and smoothies. Cocoa powder has numerous health benefits. It has been shown to help reduce high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Consumption of cocoa powder has been linked with improved functionality of the brain. It does this by stimulating an increase in blood flow to the organ.

Pectin

Pectin is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in apples, berries and other fruits. It can also be derived from the sweatings of cocoa (cocoa pulp juice). The sweatings are precipitated with alcohol, then distilled to extract the pectin.

It is widely used as an emulsifier, thickener, and setting agent in pharmaceutical industries. A popular use of pectin is in the preparation of jam and marmalade. When heated with sugar and fruit such as strawberry, pectin causes the mixture to gel or set forming what we call Jam. Thus jam can be used as a spread for bread or eaten in its own.

Potash and Animal feed

The pod of the cocoa husk can be used to make both potash and feed for animals. To make potash, the husks are spread to dry in an open place for about a week or two.

The dried husks are then burnt into ashes in an ashing kiln to form the potash. This potash is used in making cosmetic soap bars. Cocoa pod husks are also used in making animal feed. In this case, the husks are sliced into small flakes, then minced and rolled into pellets. The pellets are allowed to dry before they are fed to animals.

Ways of Identifying High-quality Cocoa Beans

Cocoa beans are seeds of the Cacao tree. A member of the family Malvaceae, Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is a small tree that grows majorly in tropical regions. It is native to the Amazon basin although its cultivation has now spread to different parts of the world.

The beans serve as a major contributor to the acquisition of foreign exchange for countries that export it. Cocoa beans are enclosed in cocoa pods that grow directly from the trunk of the trees. The pods are cut open to reveal the fresh beans that usually have a purplish hue. This hue disappears and the seeds turn brown during the fermentation process. Fermentation is necessary as cocoa beans naturally have a very bitter taste. The process reduces the bitterness and builds up the desired cocoa flavour in the beans.

Due to its high versatility, cocoa beans are used in the preparation of many delicacies. Asides chocolate, which is its most popular derivative, several other products can be gotten from them. They are used in the manufacture of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and other cocoa-based products such as chocolate cakes, icecream and so on. In addition to its versatility, cocoa beans carry numerous health benefits.

They are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavenols which help in reversing damage caused by free radicals in the body. Research has also proven them to be effective in fighting against heart disease as well as lowering high blood pressure.

To reap the full benefits of cocoa beans, it is very important to make use of high-quality ones. High-quality cocoa beans yield the best tasting cocoa-based goods while also preventing the health hazards that come with bad beans.

So, if you’re looking to purchase these beans, following the tips listed below will help you identify the high-quality ones.

The colour of the cocoa beans is a very good parameter in determining its quality

Properly fermented and dried cocoa beans are brown with no trace of purple in sight. This is achieved by allowing the beans to ferment completely for about 7 days.

If the fermentation process does not last for long enough, the beans will still retain its purple colour and bitter taste. This will have a nasty effect on the product the beans are eventually used to prepare.

Mouldy and slaty cocoa beans should be avoided

Mouldy beans have not been allowed to ferment nor dry properly. Hence, they look mouldy due to fungal growth and have a rough texture. The slaty ones have a colour combination of purple and grey and are results of incomplete fermentation.

High-quality cocoa beans have the rich, intense cocoa flavour

Under-fermentation and over-fermentation can cause flavour defects in cocoa beans leading to excessive bitterness and astringency. Cocoa beans also tend to absorb the flavour of anything they come in contact with such as smoke, chemicals and so on.

This adds some off-flavour to the beans that are usually impossible to remove even after further processing. To ensure the beans only have desirable flavours, you should ask that a sample of the cocoa beans be made into cocoa liquor or dark chocolate. Then, they are tasted to check the strength of the flavour, presence of any residual acidity as well as extra positive flavours the beans may possess.

Check the physical characteristics of the beans

They should be fairly uniform in size with unbroken shells. They should also be reasonably free from debris, sticks, broken shells of the beans, living or dead insects, and pesticide residues. The beans should not be clumped together or flat as this could mean serious losses for whoever purchases them.

The weight of a single cocoa bean should be verified before purchasing

An average bean should weigh at least 1g. A smaller bean translates to a higher percentage of shell which means the fat percentage in it will be low. Smaller beans also require certain adjustments in factory settings that increase the costs of processing.

High-quality cocoa beans have been properly dried

The percentage of moisture falls between 7 and 8%. If the moisture content is more than 8%, edible material is lost and there is an increased risk of microbial infection. A moisture percentage of less than 6.5% translates to broken shells and a higher number of broken beans.

How cocoa beans are stored plays an important role in determining its quality. If they are stored shabbily, they become dirty and infested resulting in a decrease in quality. The beans should be stored in clean bags. These bags should then be kept in dry storage houses that are free from rodents to prevent infestation.

Common Mistakes Shrimp Buyers Make and How to Avoid Them

Shrimp is one of the most consumed seafood in the world. These little crustaceans are the most widely served seafood in America. They have thin shells and live at the bottom of rivers, oceans, and lakes.

Renowned as versatile culinary ingredients, shrimps can be made into many tasty dishes such as shrimp soups, sashimi, and shrimp creole. From being baked to boiled, grilled, and even barbecued, there is hardly any form of cooking shrimps can’t undergo.

Shrimp are also highly nutritious as they are very low in calories but rich in protein. Not only are they abundant in magnesium, niacin, and vitamin B12, but they also contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. A particular type of antioxidant called Astaxanthin is found in shrimps.

The reddish colour of shrimp cells is attributed to its presence in their bodies. Astaxanthin has anti-inflammatory effects in the body that could prevent brain damage and development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

This antioxidant also improves the health of the heart by causing an increase in the level of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Also, shrimp are rich in Iodine. Iodine is needed for the synthesis of the thyroid hormone which is necessary for proper metabolism in the body. A deficiency in this mineral can lead to goitre.

Due to its delicious taste and the health benefits it delivers, shrimp are highly sought after in the international market. This makes it a very good choice for an import business. However, buying shrimp for import comes with its challenges. There are certain avoidable mistakes shrimp buyers make that can be very costly.

Here are three of these common mistakes and how they can be avoided.

Not Doing Proper Research Before Investing

It is not news that some shrimp buyers lack an in-depth understanding of the business and all that it entails. The shrimp business is a very volatile one and one that demands full knowledge from whoever chooses to go into it.

There’s a lot to know about shrimps. The types that exist, the countries to source for them, whether they are farmed or wild grown, consumer quality expectations, among others. There are many species of commercially sold shrimp.

The most popular one is the tiger shrimp which are easily identified by the brown markings on their bodies. They are the best source for in Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China.

Another type of shrimp is the brown shrimp. These have a kind of mineral taste and are small with purple markings on their tails. They are mostly found in the Gulf of Mexico so it only makes sense to try to source for them there as it will be cheaper.

Knowing all this information is very important as it will save a buyer from unnecessary stress and waste of money. To avoid this mistake of ignorance, shrimp buyers should take time to research on the on all the aspects of the business. They should also check the cost of importing the shrimp into their country and which producing country offers the best prices.

Buying Shrimps at Inappropriate Times

Every Shrimp-producing country has purchasing windows throughout the year. Usually, shrimp are harvested about 2 to 3 times each year but these harvest times are different for each country.

Buyers sometimes make the mistake of assuming that anytime is the perfect time to buy shrimps as long as they are available. But this mentality can cause buyers to overpay for shrimp.

For instance, black tiger shrimp are farmed in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Each country has a time when the shrimps will be freshly harvested and available at a price lower than usual due to high availability.

These purchasing windows fluctuate as many factors keep them in flux. The factors include weather patterns, disease, exchange rate, feed price, and so on. It is in the best interest of buyers to do their research on this and also employ the services of professional suppliers and brokers. These experts understand the situations on the ground better than anyone and can tell when it’s the right time to make purchases.

Giving Inadequate Specifications to Suppliers

Specifications describe the important features in shrimp such as size, moisture content, colouration, and taste. One of the biggest mistakes shrimp buyers make is not being specific enough with these specifications.

This gives room for suppliers to make annoying assumptions and interpretations that may lead to serious problems for buyers. The quality of the shrimp purchased may be compromised and the buyer will lose money and credibility.

To prevent this, specifications should state explicitly the type of shrimp the buyer wants, the size, preferred freezing technique, quantity, moisture content, shipping terms, preferred packaging and so on.

Reasons Ginger Import is a Highly Lucrative Business

Ginger is a tropical plant that originated from Southeast Asia. Belonging to the family, Zingiberaceae, the root of this plant is the edible part.

It is usually propagated with the ginger seed, called a rhizome and it takes about 8 – 10 months to fully mature. Ginger packs a lot of heat due to the high amount of gingerols and shogaol present in it.

These give it its unique spiciness and distinct aroma which is one of the many reasons people love to cook with ginger. In addition to its use as a spice, ginger is used for the health benefits it delivers. Ginger oil is also used as a potent essential oil in aromatherapy and wellness.

Ginger Export and Import

India is the largest producer of ginger in the world. The warm climate in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the country are the most suitable for the growth of the plant. China is, however, the highest exporter of ginger churning out an average of 390 thousand tonnes annually. Other countries that export ginger include India, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

These countries export majorly to the United States of America, which is the world’s largest importer of ginger and countries in Europe. Ginger is exported as either fresh ginger, ground or dry ginger. The ground or dry ginger is less perishable so it is often the most preferred import form.

Over the past couple of years, ginger consumption all over the world has risen exponentially. This has reflected as an increase in the market price of ginger as well as a rise the amount exported.

In 2018 alone, approximately 3.3M tonnes of ginger were produced worldwide with about 564 thousand tonnes exported to other countries. As consumption of ginger has only been forecasted to grow within the coming years, ginger import stands as a highly lucrative business for so many reasons.

A lucrative business is one that fetches a lot of profit. For a business to fetch a lot of profit, one of the important factors is the market for it must be large enough. Certain trends have caused the market for ginger to grow in the past years.

Ginger is Healthy

The first is the fact that ginger is considered a healthy food ingredient. There is a new craze for healthy foods in the market right now as so many people are being conscious about what they eat. Sugar, salt and other toxic food additives are being cancelled by consumers due to the havoc they wreak on the body. Instead of consuming these, consumers are increasingly substituting them with healthy replacements like ginger.

Ginger is heavily marketed as a food that is beneficial to health. Research has shown it to relieve symptoms of cold and flu which is the reason for increased consumption in colder seasons.

Ginger also helps with stomach problems, combats the effects of stress in the body and improves heart health. Pharmaceutical companies, as well as beverage companies, have hopped on the ginger trend. Ginger is now being used in the production of other consumables in the form of supplements, teas and snacks.

Increase in the popularity of ethnic foods especially Asian cuisines

Another trend causing this market boom is the increase in the popularity of ethnic foods, especially Asian cuisines. Ginger originated from Asia and has been a staple in their kitchen for ages. Most of their foods have ginger incorporated in it one way or the other.

As consumers are becoming more adventurous in the types of food they eat, Americans and Europeans especially have embraced Asian foods. This has been attributed to the growing popularity of Asian cooking shows and an increase in tourism to Asian countries.

Steady rise in the number of Asian restaurants in Europe and America

There has also been a steady rise in the number of Asian restaurants in these countries. And as expected, this rise has made the people more exposed to these meals. What these trends translate to in market terms is an ever-growing demand for ginger. The restaurants, pharmaceutical and beverage companies, and consumers that decide to experiment with ginger all constitute a large market for the product. A savvy importer can take this opportunity and make a lot of money from this business.

Price of Ginger continues to gain on international markets

The price of ginger in the international market is steadily increasing. In 2020, Nigerian ginger saw a 30% increase in price on the international market.

A ton of ginger was sold for a price between 6,000 and 7,000 US Dollars. In the local market in Nigeria, the price stands at US$3,500. The profit margin per ton after such deductions is still large enough for ginger import to be considered highly lucrative.

Benefits of African Dry Ginger You Didn’t Know

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant belonging to the family Zingiberaceae alongside turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Originating from South East Asia, it’s a rhizome (often referred to as ginger root) has been used for ages for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a strong unique smell as well as flavour.

Packed with highly beneficial phytonutrients, ginger is one of the most healthy spices in the world. It contains 2 potent bioactive substances– Gingerol and Shogaol. In fresh ginger, Gingerol is the most active biochemical ingredient. It gives its unique spiciness. Gingerol has anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and gastroprotective properties. Thus, it provides the majority of the medicinal benefits of ginger.

Shogaol is the ingredient responsible for the pungent smell of ginger. When fresh ginger is dried, Gingerol is dehydrated to form Shogaol. This is why dry ginger is more pungent than its fresh counterpart. It is noteworthy that African dry ginger contains more gingerol and shogaol compounds than the Asian ginger making it more potent either as a spice or medicine.

This guide lists the five major benefits of African dry ginger.

It provides relief from a sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough

The pain associated with a sore throat is as a result of inflammation in the throat which is often caused by an infection. Ginger soothes the pain and provides some relief.

The antioxidants found in ginger fight pathogens present in the throat that could be causing a cough while also relaxing the respiratory muscles that tighten when coughing. During nasal congestion, the gingerol found in ginger thins out the mucus and reduces its production easing the discomfort the person may be suffering.

It helps fight nausea

Nausea is an uneasy feeling that often comes with the urge to throw up. A lot of conditions could cause one to feel nauseated such as morning sickness in pregnant women, motion sickness, a stomach infection, food poisoning, emotional stress, and so on.

Dry ginger is very effective in easing the symptoms of nausea. Research has proven that ginger is more effective in fighting nausea than medications and has fewer side effects. It does this by maintaining a stable digestive function and regulating the blood pressure to keep the body calm.

Ginger can treat stomach indigestion and other stomach-related issues

Ginger is a great remedy for stomach indigestion. Indigestion– medically known as dyspepsia– is any form of discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, belching, and an acidic taste in the mouth.

Studies have shown that even little doses of ginger can relieve abdominal pain related to indigestion. Ginger boosts the secretion of saliva and gastric juices to aid proper digestion. It quickens the movement of food through the digestive tract which helps to reduce cramps, irritation as well as constipation. It’s anti-inflammatory effects block enzymes that could lead to bloating.

Ginger also helps to reduce the amount of gastric acid in the stomach which could be responsible for indigestion as well as the acid reflux related to it. By preventing the acid from flowing up into the oesophagus, ginger reduces the chances of gastric acid getting to the mouth and leaving a nasty taste there.

It could help with weight loss

Ginger boosts metabolism. This helps in burning off excess fat thus resulting in weight loss. Consumption of ginger has been linked with suppression in appetite, lower cholesterol and blood sugar level. It could even reduce the buildup of fat in the arteries which contributes to high blood pressure.

Ginger has been shown to help overweight people stay fuller for longer. This prevents them from having hunger pangs that will result in eating more food than could set back weight loss. Ginger can also help in burning fat in specific areas like the belly. It has a very significant effect on the waist-to-hip ratio.

african ginger oil

Ginger improves the health of the skin and hair

Topical application of ginger on the skin has several benefits. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects can be used to prevent skin issues such as acne. A ginger face mask will help unclog pores and kill any bacteria that could lead to the formation of acne on the face.

Ginger is also very helpful in treating hypopigmented scars i.e scars that are lighter than the skin tone. It rejuvenates dull-looking skin by fighting free radicals and boosting collagen production which in turn improves the elasticity of the skin giving it a healthy glow.

The hair also stands a lot to gain from ginger. Ginger fights dandruff and remove all crusty flakiness in the scalp. Ginger is used to treating bald spots on the scalp as it boosts the growth of hair from follicles. It also moisturizes the scalp, makes the hair shiny and thicker.