Cost of healthy diet in Nigeria up N982 in March

The national average cost of a Healthy Diet (CoHD) was N982 per adult per day in March 2024, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.

The statistics office in its report titled “Cost of a Healthy Diet March 2024” published on its website, said this is 4.7 per cent higher than the amount recorded in the previous month (N938 in February).

The bureau said in March 2024, the average CoHD was highest in the South-west at N1,198 per adult per day, compared to N787 per adult per day in the North-west.

The report said CoHD is the least expensive combination of locally available items that meet globally consistent food-based dietary guidelines.

It explained that it is used as a measure of physical and economic access to healthy diets. This, it said, is a lower bound (or floor) of the cost per adult per day excluding the cost of transportation and meal preparation.

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“The National Average Cost of a Healthy Diet was N982 per adult per day in March 2024. At the State level Ekiti, Lagos and Abia States recorded the highest cost with N1330, N1249, and N1215 respectively. Katsina accounted for the lowest costs with N739, followed by Sokoto and Zamfara with N758 and N766, respectively.

“Lastly, at the Zonal level, the average CoHD was highest in the South West Zone at N1198 per day, followed by the South East Zone with N1140 per day. The lowest average Cost of a Healthy diet was recorded in the North-west Zone with N787 per day,” NBS said.

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Cost share by food group

According to the bureau, animal-source foods were the most expensive food group recommendation to meet in March, accounting for 37 per cent of the total CoHD to provide 13 per cent of the total calories.

It said fruits and vegetables were the most expensive food groups in terms of price per calorie; they accounted for 12 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, of total CoHD while providing only 7 per cent and 5 per cent of total calories in the Healthy Diet Basket.

It added that legumes, nuts and seeds were the least-expensive food group on average, at 6 per cent of the total cost.

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In recent years, food prices have been on the rise across Nigeria. The situation deteriorated due to the impact of government policies such as the removal of subsidies on petrol, among others.

The upward trend in the prices of these staples and other products has weakened the purchasing power of many citizens, making it difficult for many households in the country to afford daily meals.

Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 33.20 per cent in March from 31.70 per cent in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in its latest inflation report.

According to the report, the food inflation rate in March 2024 quickened to 40.01 per cent on a year-on-year basis, 15.56 per cent points higher than the rate recorded in March 2023 (24.45 per cent).

On Thursday, the statistics office said the CoHD has risen faster than general inflation and food inflation.

However, it noted the CoHD and the Food Consumer Price Index (CPI) are not directly comparable; the CoHD includes fewer items and is measured in Naira per day, while the food CPI is a weighted index.

“CoHD has steadily increased since the first CoHD report by NBS (October 2023). The CoHD in March 2024 is 40 per cent higher than in October 2023 (N703) and 5 per cent higher than the CoHD in February 2024, which was N938.

“The food groups that have driven the increases in CoHD the most are vegetables, starchy staples, and fruits. The cost of meeting the recommendations for oil and fats have changed the least,” it said.

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In the past year, the NBS said the CoHD and the cost of all other goods and services increased at roughly the same rate, until July 2023, when CoHD increased at a faster rate than all goods and services (general CPI) and more than all foods for which retail prices are collected.

The NBS said in March 2024, Ekiti (Urban) had the most expensive Cost of a Healthy Diet at N1406 per adult per day, while the least expensive location was Kwara (Urban) with CoHD at N662.

It said while there were similarities in the least-cost item in March (e.g. Palm Oil, Avocado Pear, Coconut, Bitter leaf, and Soya beans), the cost per food was different in these locations because of underlying price differences.

“Most of the food groups had different least-cost items as well; for example cassava flour was the most expensive starchy staple in Ekiti (Urban), compared with garri white grains in Kwara (Urban).”

The NBS noted that the Cost of a Healthy Diet provides important information about food access, a key aspect of food security, which is useful for government, civil society and development partners, private sector, and researchers.

For instance, it said where the Cost of a Healthy Diet is high, it is possible to identify which least-cost items and food groups are driving the high cost.

Stakeholders can identify supply challenges in specific foods or food groups to be addressed, for example with improved production, distribution, or market access.

“These results can also foster collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders, such as policymakers, researchers and civil society actors that focus on food security, to devise strategies that tackle access, availability, and affordability of healthy diet effectively.

“Future research incorporating income can also be used to determine the proportion and number of the population that are unable to afford a healthy diet,” it said.

The report said the retail food price data used in this analysis is collected by the NBS monthly from 10,534 informants spread across the country, from urban and rural outlets in each state and FCT.

“NBS collects these prices routinely for monitoring inflation, including prices of over 200 retail food items. Nearly 150 of these food items are potentially included in a healthy diet and the price data for these items are used for the computation of the CoHD.

READ ALSO: Cost of healthy diet highest in South-west in February – NBS

“In Nigeria, CoHD is the minimum cost of foods needed to meet international recommendations defined in the Healthy Diet Basket (HDB), a globally relevant set of criteria that captures similarities across most national food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG).

“The HDB was created as a comparable standard to calculate and compare the cost and affordability of healthy diets across countries; the HDB is most relevant for countries where there is not yet a quantified national FBDG, like Nigeria,” it said.

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