Food Business in Nigeria: Ideas, How to Start, Cost & Profitability

  • October 1, 2023

Food business in Nigeria is one of the fastest-moving businesses to start by passionate entrepreneurs and make a lot of money.

Since everybody needs food to survive, food business is a good daily income business idea where you could make tens if not hundreds of thousands of naira every day in profit.

Preparing food for sale is more like a passion/career than a business, which is why it is very easy to start for those who love cooking. They can easily turn their hobby into a money making business.

If you’re one of those that have a passion for cooking, then this post is for you. From how the business works in Nigeria, the best food business ideas to start, and the cost of starting, to its profitability, and how to start and succeed, you’ll learn everything about the food business in Nigeria here today.

Without wasting much time, let’s get started!

Food Business in Nigeria

Food business involves the cooking, packaging, and selling of food to make money.

Although this business can be started in several different ways, food trucks, buka, canteen, and mini restaurants are the most popular in Nigeria, as they are accessible easily. In fact, it is hard to find a street without a food seller in any state in Nigeria.

Food sellers in Nigeria make a lot of money, especially in places where food items are cheap, and there are lots of people. The business thrives in Nigeria especially on weekdays as workers, students, and daily hustlers buy more during that time.

Although there may be some local associations to join, depending on the type of food business you want to start, it is not necessary you register your business to start, as you can do this later as you grow.

Talking about the types, what are some popular and most profitable food business ideas to start in Nigeria?

Read Also: How to Start a Profitable Foodstuff Business in Nigeria

Food Business Ideas You Can Start in Nigeria

There are lots of different types of food businesses you can start in Nigeria and make a lot of money. Although some are easier than others, all of them are certainly profitable. Let’s check them out one by one!


Opening a restaurant is the most popular of all, and the one that will first come to your mind while looking to start a food business in Nigeria.

This food business idea involves serving already prepared food and drinks to customers. It requires you to set up a good-looking and clean shop, hire staff, and get some expensive materials to get started.

Opening a restaurant is also the most profitable way of starting a food business in Nigeria. As your restaurant becomes popular over time, you’ll start getting lots of sales which means lots of profits.

Food Canteen/Kiosk

Food canteen is just like a restaurant, although you don’t need to spend much in terms of setting up your shop. In fact, you can run your food canteen all alone by yourself.

This food business idea also involves serving already prepared food. Food kiosks are popular in motor parks and school areas (usually primary and secondary). It is also referred to as “mama put” in some areas, while some people call it food buka.


Cook-on-demand is relatively a new food business idea in Nigeria. This involves taking orders for a specific type of food, preparing it, and getting it delivered to your customers.

This food business idea is starting to gain ground, especially in Lagos, as there are lots of young entrepreneurs starting their own cook-on-demand restaurants. The profit from this type is insane, as you can sell a plate of food for 3,000 Naira whereas all it takes you to prepare is just 700 Naira.

This food business model is very easy as it can be started even from the comfort of your kitchen, and it can be started all alone.

Food Truck

Food business in Nigeria

The food truck business idea is some of the most popular food business ideas in Nigeria, as it is practiced in almost every state and city across the country.

It can also be referred to as a mobile food vending business, as it involves selling already prepared food to customers usually on the street.

This business can be started using a van or trailer, but realistically in Nigeria, it is commonly done using a wheelbarrow. You can often find this type of food business in bus stops, busy areas (e.g Oshodi, Lagos), and in marketplaces (e.g Aba market, Abia).

Catering Service

Catering is another easy food business idea that makes a lot of money where you don’t have to work all day. It is just like the cook-on-demand business, but catering often deals with a group of people or events, rather than cooking for just a particular person at a time.

Caterers are usually hired to cook, deliver, and serve food to occasions, churches, schools, etc. This business is very profitable, as you’re paid on contract rather than, per person.

See Also: How to Start Popcorn Business in Nigeria and Make up to 5K Daily

How Much Do You Need to Start Food Business in Nigeria

Food business is very easy to start as it only requires cooking skills. Once you’re a good cook, you can start. However, how much will you need to start?

From buying the materials and equipment needed to get different kinds of foodstuffs and ingredients needed to prepare meals, there’s a lot of investment that needs to be made upfront to start a food business in Nigeria.

Depending on the food business idea you wish to go with, on a small scale, realistically it would cost you at least 100,000 Naira to start. While on a large scale such as a restaurant, you would need at least 500,000 Naira to start a food business in Nigeria.

Related: 19 High Profitable Businesses to Start with 150K in Nigeria

How Profitable is Food Business in Nigeria

With food business in Nigeria being relatively capital intensive, putting in all the required start-up funds, how much will you make in return? Is food business profitable in Nigeria?

Yes, food business is profitable in Nigeria. In fact, you can make up to 300% ROI from selling just cooked rice and stew in Nigeria. Although, it may be way lesser depending on some factors.

The profitability of this business depends mainly on location. If you’re in an area where foodstuffs are cheap, you’ll surely make a lot of profit. However, if you’re looking to start selling food in areas where foodstuffs are expensive, you may be profitable, but not as much.

Also, the profitability of a food business depends on your niche and the food business idea you wish to go with. For example, you may need just one sale to make 3K in a cook-on-demand restaurant, whereas 10 sales may be the minimum to make 3K in a regular restaurant or food canteen. And the amount of ingredients used in cook-on-demand is way lesser than the food canteen. So, after doing the calculations, you may only make a profit of 1,000 naira from 10 sales in your food canteen, while a cook-on-demand business could make 2,000 naira from just a sale.

How to Start Food Business in Nigeria

Food business in Nigeria
Credits: CNN

1. Carry Out Thorough Market Research

To start a food business in Nigeria the first step to take is getting to understand how the business works, and this can be achieved through market research.

Your market research should be able to give you clues about what type of food business is best for you, what type sells well in your area, is your location suitable for the business, and so on.

You’ll also get to know the risks involved, rules and regulations to follow, and of course, get to find out about food seller associations (if they’re in your area).

The best thing to do to achieve all these is to meet with a food seller for detailed research about the business. They may even guide you through as a beginner.

2. Decide on Your Mode of Operation

After successful market research, you should be able to know some of the best food business ideas for you.

Now, take your time to check and balance the one to settle for based on your location, profitability, as well as how easy it is to start for you.

While deciding your mode of operation whether you want to start as a restaurant, a buka, catering, or cook-on-demand restaurant, you need to keep in mind the demographics you want to target.

For example, if you’re living in a commerce area where daily business activities go on, or an area where schools are, it will be best to settle for a food canteen/kiosk, or start with a food truck.

Read Also: How to Start a Profitable Frozen Food Business in Nigeria

3. Come Up With A Business Plan

Based on your niche or mode of operation, you need to create a realistic business plan to work with. It is not necessary you draft the best business plan in the world, just make it on point.

In your business plan, you need to account for both the short-term and long-term goals of your business including growth strategy, and financial projection.

While drafting your business plan, you need to carry out a little competitor research, know where they are lagging, and include the strategies that will help you do better than them.

More so, you need to point out who your customers are, and how to serve them better. Finally, in your business plan, outline a creative team management strategy to get the best out of your employees for the success of the business.

4. Arrange for Funding

To start a food business, you need to invest in a lot of things including the materials and equipment needed, as well as the foodstuff and ingredients required for cooking. If you’ll have to employ some workers, you’ll also need money for that, which is usually after starting though.

While most of the money is needed before starting, you need to find a way of raising the capital for your business. This can be achieved through personal savings, bank loans, loans from friends and family, as well as a business partnership.

5. Arrange for a Suitable Location

For a food selling business to succeed in Nigeria, you need to be strategic in planning a location for your shop.

You need to keep in mind the type of people in the area, how busy the area is, and also watch out for competition. You cannot start a food business in GRA and expect much sales, as people living in such places are families with housewives who will always prepare food for them.

The best locations for your food selling business in Nigeria depend on your mode of operation. For food trucks and canteen, marketplaces, and motor parks are ideal, while you can start anywhere offering a cook-on-demand service.

Related: How to Make N1m+ From Palm Oil Business in Nigeria

6. Arrange for The Necessary Equipment and Ingredients

The main things you need to start a food selling business in Nigeria are the equipment (cooking wares), foodstuff, and ingredients needed to start.

Usually, the equipment is general and they include gas cookers, pots, plates, tables, chairs, and so on. However, when it comes to the foodstuff and ingredients, they are niche specific.

That means the foodstuff and ingredients to arrange for should be based on the type of food you want to be selling. Make sure you buy those ingredients in small quantities as you’re just starting.

7. Register Your Business (If Required)

It is not a must to register a food business as a company in Nigeria, but if you’re looking to start a restaurant on a larger scale, it will be better if you register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission. This will make your business look more serious, give opportunities for loans from banks and also make ways for investors to support your business.

While business registration may not be necessary, it is a must to join the food sellers association if there’s any in your area in order to avoid disturbance.

8. Hire Workers (If Required)

Even if it is someone that will help you watch plates, you would have to employ workers to help you with some aspects of the business.

In this step, you need to make sure the person you hire understands the business. Also, make sure your employees are able to meet not only your expectations but most importantly treat customers well.

9. Get Started

Now, everything is set. The next thing is to get started by cooking, packaging, and serving customers. Remember that customers really matter, so make sure you’re offering a satisfactory service.

As part of starting, to get customers, you need to promote your business and let people know that there’s a new food seller in town.

Here are some tips on how to promote your food business in Nigeria.

  • Brand your business by creating banners to let people know what your business is all about.
  • Design your shop to describe your business.
  • Encourage friends, family, and neighbours to help in advertising your business through word of mouth.
  • Build brand awareness by visiting schools, firms, and even homes in your area and telling them about your business.
  • For a start, offer discounts, and also make your food good-looking, tasty, and most importantly, cheaper than your competitors.
  • Create an online presence for your business.

Food Selling Business – FAQs

Which food business is most profitable in Nigeria?

Per sale, the most profitable food business in Nigeria is the cook-on-demand restaurant, as you can make up to 3,000 Naira profit from just one sale.

What food business can I start in Nigeria?

The food businesses you can start in Nigeria include restaurants, a food canteen, a cook-on-demand service, and a catering service.

What food sells the most in Nigeria?

As a food seller, the food that brings in the most sales in Nigeria is rice.

Which food business is most popular in Nigeria?

Opening a food canteen and/or restaurant is the most popular food business idea in Nigeria.

What type of restaurant makes the most money?

Although regular restaurants make a lot of money, cook-on-demand restaurants make more money with the most profit now in Nigeria.


Food business is a very lucrative business. Anyone, both male and female, can start and make a lot of money in Nigeria, and it is best for those with a passion for cooking.

Whether you want to start as a restaurant, food canteen, or delivery-only restaurant, I believe this post on how to start food business in Nigeria has enlightened you more about the business.