It's that time of year when every household is getting set to cook up a storm - bake, fry barbecue, and grill. We were asked for recommendations on the healthiest cooking oil options, and here's who/what we found.
Emeka Ugwoeje is the Founder and Managing Director at SFK Cococnut Oil Company, which manufactures coconut oil, water and flour - and is a major supplier to the pharmaceutical, confectionery and cosmetics industries.
An ex-staff of Law Union & Rock Insurance Plc. (and a graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering from the University of Maiduguri), Emeka ventured into the coconut oil extracting business over nine years ago.
"SFK coconut oil is produced in its most hygienic and purest form. It is extra virgin (meaning it is not refined, bleached or deodorised), and is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world"
Having used coconut oil himself for more than 25 years, Ugwoeje is quick to share that for ages, and in so many cultures, the coconut and its derivatives have excelled as very valuable sources of food, good health and beautiful skin and hair. He says: "SFK coconut oil is produced in its most hygienic and purest form. It is extra virgin (meaning it is not refined, bleached or deodorised), and is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world."
In traditional medicine, coconut is used to treat a wide variety of conditions: asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, fever, flu, diabetes, kidney stones, malnutrition, nausea, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, toothache, upset stomach and many more.
While working in the insurance industry, Ugwoeje put aside funds with which he started SFK Coconut Oil as a side business.
But he faced two problems:
1- He required far more capital than anticipated for the venture;
2- Combining a full-time job and a demanding young business proved to be a herculean task.
And so he put his private business on hold, went back to his full time insurance job for one year (2015), raised more capital, and returned to grow SFK Coconut Oil.
Supply chain challenges and solutions
But it still wasn't all sugar and spice.
A major challenge was the vice-like grip that greedy middlemen had on the the supply of the coconut raw material. They had the financial muscle to purchase coconuts in massive truckloads, and therefore controlled prices, which invariably reduced the margins of manufacturers like Emeka to nothing.
The solution was in sight. Emeka came together with over 100 co-business owners to form a trade union called the Association of Coconut Oil Extractors of Nigeria (ACEN). Pooling resources, they cut off the middlemen and began to source coconuts directly from farmers in Badagry town, on the outskirts of Nigeria's Lagos state.
As a clever businessman, Emeka realises that as people and countries continue to discover the multitude benefits of the coconut fruit, demand could easily outstrip the supply capabilities of just one source (Badagry) in the next few years. And so he actively advocates the expansion of Nigeria's raw material supply base, including a policy to grow the coconut plant locally, backed by research institutes, as well as support by the Federal Government to help small scale investors manage and improve their businesses.
As his line of business gets increasingly competitive, Emeka is confident of retaining market share. He says: “One of our keys to success is maintaining the quality of our product. Integrity and quality assurance are the secrets of this business.”
Telephone: +234 (0) 802 366 7336
Address: 38 Lingu Cresent | Off Aminu Kano Cresent | Wuse 2 | Abuja - Nigeria