Substitutes in Lagos,
Olaoluwa Fashola has a factory in Lagos State, Nigeria, producing vegan meat substitutes. Already with a Plant-Based Burger and Plant-Based Chunks, Casa Vegan is currently developing other products to hit the shelves soon.
Hi Olaoluwa! Firstly, tell us where you’re based.
We are based in Lagos, Nigeria. I chose to have this start up in Lagos as it is where I am from, a major African financial centre and the economic hub of Lagos State and Nigeria at large.
For your readers by the way, Lagos isn’t the capital of Nigeria – it’s Abuja!
You have a factory making plant based options?
We recently opened our workspace / factory in Lagos – in the central axis of Lagos to be exact. This means we are able to service clients on both sides of the city; the mainland and the island.
Tell us about the product range!
We currently have 2 plant-based alternative protein products awaiting NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control) approval; a plant-based Burger patty and plant-based chunks (similar to diced beef). We are working on some other meat substitutes – plant-based mince, plant-based sausage, an alternative to chicken and some research & development on seafood alternatives.
And the ingredients?
We only use 100% natural, organic, some upcycled, locally grown and sourced ingredients, as our mission is to ensure we reduce waste, as well as the reliance on imports.
Our focus isn’t just on profit margins and the bottom line, we wanted to deliver a truly high quality local product without sacrificing nutrition. As our products are protein alternatives, it was key to ensure we delivered very good nutrition; in particular a good level of protein; 100g of our Chunks contains 19g of protein, 100g of our Burger Patty contains 18g of protein.
The first question I always get asked by Nigerians & Africans once they find out I am vegan is “where do you get your protein from?”.. now any Nigerian or African going plant-based can simply answer.. Casa Vegan’s plant-based alternatives of course!
Are you selling to shops yet?
Not yet, as we are awaiting our NAFDAC approval, meaning we cannot sell them as packaged good sfor now, hence we cannot stock in supermarkets. However, we have had positive discussions with a few supermarkets that are ready to take stock as soon as we are approved.. come on NAFDAC!
We are also looking to supply to any business that want to keep up with the global trend by diversifying their menus; restuarants, corporates, caterers, schools etc.
Any plans to export?
Yes, we want to make products that are unique and that resonate with the Nigerian & African palette. We believe this approach will provide the needed familiarity for our target market, aswell as give us exportability.
When’s the website launch?
We plan to launch the site & open up online sales as soon as we get our NAFDAC approval.
What’s the demand for plant based options like currently?
It’s currenlty a niche market, hence not as high a demand as you would get for meat. However, the market is growing, similar to the trends we see globally! There are more and more people appreciating the need to change their lifestyle or just simply eat less meat. A large part of our strategy is to create awareness, educate and most importantly make our alternatives accessible.
What’s driving that growth? Health? Environment?
The change is driven predominantly by health concerns, most people now realize and appreciate the positive changes diet and the right lifestyle can have. However, you also have people that adopt a plant-based diet in going vegan or flexitarian, as well as to lose weight. Of course the availability and accessibilty of good quality options also plays a key part towards a shift to a plant-based lifestyle.
Plans for the future?
We want to develop a full portfolio of animal protein alternatives, using local ingredients, have a full in house farm-to-table operation and be a major alternative protein manufacturer across Africa, and then of course; take over the world!
What would you like to see develop? Do you get any help from the Government? Any support?
OMG, where do I start!
Firstly, support from the government for entreprenuers – This can be via government programs, incubators, subsidies, training and development, there is an endless list. Right now young and brilliant people with amazing ideas don’t have the support to implement / scale their businesses, people need to look for grants from outside the country, rouge investors or even result in doing the wrong things just to raise some cash. This means alot of briliant ideas never get implemented or die due to the greed from rouge investors and bad deals!
What we need is better infastructure – The entire system isn’t favourable to new start-ups, bad transportation and roads – meaning the inability to get around to conduct key business or attend key meetings. There are high levels of inflation – making it expensive to run a business or forecast. Then there’s poor education – resulting in poor quality staff and the inability to have / implement a long-term strategy as a leader. Even product registrations take months, if not years! People in business need to be both creative and thick skinned to succeed… I am learning as I go.
Will people shift to a plant-based diet do you think?
Yes, they will! This is based on the global trends and historic trends & patterns between Nigeria and places like the UK and the States. However, we don’t believe the entire country or continent will become vegan anytime soon!