How to Start Zobo Drinks Business In Nigeria

by Temiloluwa Alagbe
1.4K views 10 mins read
Three jugs of the zobo drink

Zobo is a very popular drink in Nigeria for many reasons. The beverage, made from hibiscus leaves and pineapple flavour, is pocket-friendly, refreshing, and a healthy alternative to soda. Little surprise that the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) found the yearly consumption of Zobo to be over 100 million litres. This is why the Zobo drinks business is a very profitable one in Nigeria, and if you are looking to start yours, this is the perfect article for you.

How Profitable is the Zobo Drinks Business in Nigeria?

The Zobo business is a very profitable one because it is a low-capital, high-profit business. With the right business strategy, you could easily make anywhere from 2X -10X your initial investment. Whether on a small scale or a large scale, the Zobo business in Nigeria is a highly lucrative business.

How Much Do You Need to Start A Zobo Business In Nigeria?

The amount of money required to start a Zobo business is dependent on the time and resources available to you. A small-scale Zobo business is one where less than 100 bottles are produced per day. This type of business doesn’t require much capital. With a minimum of NGN30,000 and a maximum of NGN50,000, you could start a successful small-scale Zobo business. On the other hand, a large-scale Zobo business produces well over a hundred bottles of Zobo per day. The least capital investment for this type of Zobo drinks business is NGN200,000, with no specific maximum investment.

Basic Equipment and Ingredients For a Zobo Drinks Business

1. Gas Burners

If you intend to start a small-scale Zobo drinks business, a fast-burner gas cooker is up to the task. However, if you want to run a large-scale business, you need an industrial gas cooker. Nigerians mostly use industrial gas cookers to cook for a large number of people, usually on rent. Conversely, you’d need to purchase yours, and you can do so on Jumia.

2. Cooking Gas

You need enough cooking gas to power your cooker. You need at least a 12kg gas cylinder to keep your Zobo business running for a small-scale business. A large-scale business, however, needs to get industrial gas cylinders to go with those industrial gas cookers.

3. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Measuring cups and spoons of different sizes are essential because you need to gauge the ingredients you would use to prepare your Zobo. You want your brand to be known for its constant high-quality taste, not its fluctuating taste.

4. Sizeable Pot(s) or Container(s)

A pot that holds at least 3 litres of water is a necessity. One litre of water is estimated to produce about 16 bottles of water, which is only enough for personal consumption. You need to produce a minimum of 30 bottles per day to run a Zobo business, which is why you need to purchase a large pot.

5. Water

Sachets are the most common and cost-effective way of packaging water in Nigeria. A bag contains 20 sachets of water. a small-scale Zobo business could thrive with two bags of water per day, but not a large-scale one. A large-scale business needs to have a whole water system to have a fast and effective production process.

6. Zobo Leaves (Roselle Petals)

The main ingredient of Zobo is the Zobo leaves because they are responsible for the blood-red colour of the drink. What is known to be Zobo leaves are the dried petals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower (also known as the Roselle flower). Without this ingredient, Zobo would just be sweetened water.

7. Ripe Pineapples

Pineapples serve as natural sweeteners. The quantity of pineapples is dependent on the quantity of zobo you want to produce. Most small-scale businesses do not need more than one ripe pineapple. Pineapple peel or flavouring can be used as substitutes, but because the pineapple aims to give the drink a natural sweet taste, using artificial flavours may not be the best option.

8. Ginger and Cloves

Alongside being natural preservatives, ginger and cloves have plenty of health benefits. For example, ginger aids digestion, lowers cholesterol levels, and improves immunity. Cloves are anti-ageing, anti-inflammation, and they possess anti-bacterial properties. Ginger and cloves in Zobo make the drink healthier and help it last longer. Piper guineense seeds (popularly known as Uziza seeds) are also used sometimes for additional health benefits.

9. Sugar and Other Sweeteners

While pineapple serves as a natural sweetener, it is not quite enough to produce the sweet taste that most people enjoy. Its purpose is simply to reduce the sugar added, making the drink healthier than carbonated drinks. This is where sugar comes in, however, it is important not to put in too much. Add sugar in small quantities, and monitor the taste till you get your desired taste. Artificial sweeteners are used sometimes, but it is not advisable.

10. PET Bottles

The popularized method of packaging Zobo is PET bottles, and the bottles usually have a 50cl volume, but you could purchase bottles of different sizes and volumes for the sake of variety. For small-scale businesses, rather than picking up used bottles from the trash and other unhygienic places, you could get recycled and clean PET bottles from places like Geeta Plastic Products in Lagos, Clean Plastics Limited in Sango Ota, and even Jumia. For large-scale businesses, it would be best to recycle bottles yourself as opposed to purchasing bottles because this would save costs in the long run. Large-scale business owners also need to get bottle sealing machines, but it is not a necessity for small-scale Zobo drinks business owners.

Zobo Drink Flavours

Unknown to many, Zobo comes in different flavours. The Zobo drink flavour is dependent on the fruit used as its natural sweetener. The generic flavour is the pineapple flavour which is why it was listed among the basic ingredients. Although, you can choose to mix things up by combining the pineapple with other fruits like oranges, watermelon, and grapes to give a mixed flavour. It is also possible to completely replace the pineapple with another fruit to produce an entirely different flavour.

How To Make Zobo

  1. Rinse Zobo leaves to get rid of any dirt or dust particles that might be on it.
  2. Place Zobo leaves in a large enough pot and cover them completely with water.
  3. Place pot on low to medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  4. While you wait for the Zobo water to simmer, peel the ginger and blend it, and grind cloves and uziza seeds (if present) to powder.
  5. When the Zobo water is ready, add ginger blend and powdered cloves and uziza seeds.
  6. If you have chosen to use pineapple peels rather than a pineapple, add the pineapple peels too.
  7. Leave to boil until the Zobo leaves are completely soft. This usually takes about 45 minutes.
  8. When you are sure that all the leaves have softened, turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  9. Juice your pineapple (or whatever fruit you have decided to use) while you wait for Zobo to cool.
  10. Once the Zobo is cooled, add the pineapple juice and sieve out the zobo leaves.
  11. Sieve again with a cheesecloth or a straining cloth to get rid of any tiny particles that might be in the drink.
  12. Add sugar and any other sweetener(s) of your choice and stir thoroughly.
  13. Package the drink into PET bottles and refrigerate.
  14. Once refrigerated, the Zobo drink is ready for consumption.

How to Preserve Zobo Without a Refrigerator

The problem with Zobo is that it can’t last beyond twenty-four hours. For this reason, you need a functioning refrigerator to run a Zobo drinks business. Whether you plan to operate a small-scale Zobo business or a large-scale one, I strongly suggest that you get a refrigerator if you don’t already have one. The good news is that there are a few ways to prolong the shelf life of Zobo.

1. Cooking in a hygienic environment

Because Zobo is prone to spoilage, it would be wise to make the drink in a clean environment, using sterilized utensils, and packaged in sterilized bottles too. This would reduce the risk of spoiling microorganisms getting into the beverage, thus prolonging the shelf life.

2. Boiling the drink to a very high temperature

After cooling the Zobo drink, boil it until it is well over 100°C for a minimum of 3 minutes. Doing this kills all the harmful microorganisms that may have gotten into the drink during the preparation process. However, this process is not encouraged because it could also ruin some of the useful nutrients, thus, reducing the quality of the drink which. This is why, although this process extends the shelf life by a couple more weeks, a refrigerator is still recommended.

3. Adding Chemical Preservatives

Ginger and cloves are already great natural preservatives, but there is only so much they can do to prolong Zobo’s shelf life. Chemical preservatives boost the shelf life by at least 35 days, but it is also not advisable to use them because they can alter the taste of the drink. A solution of Sodium Benzoate has proven to be the best chemical preservative for Zobo.

As a prospective large-scale Zobo drinks business owner, this section isn’t for you because you shouldn’t even consider producing Zobo on a large scale without a sizeable refrigerator. If the cost of a refrigerator is beyond your budget, we suggest you opt for a small-scale Zobo business instead.

How to Start Zobo Drinks Business in Nigeria

We have discussed the equipment, ingredients and processes needed to make Zobo, now, let’s talk about how to make a business out of it.

1. Conduct Market Research

You need to conduct market research to find out who your target market should be, what they want, and how they want it. Conducting market research doesn’t necessarily mean you have to gather a team of established market researchers and business advisors to do it for you, it is simply gathering information. Nigeria is a country where everyone knows someone so it’s relatively easy to find out what you need to know as long as you are asking the right questions. On the other hand, if you intend to produce Zobo on a large scale, we recommend that you seek extra help with your research from professional market researchers. Here are some examples of the questions you should be asking when researching the market using a student environment as a case study.

  • How old are you?
  • What is your favourite beverage?
  • Would you purchase a bottle of Zobo if given the opportunity?
  • If yes, why?
  • How much do you think it should cost?

2. Draft a Business Plan

A business plan increases the chances of success of a business because it provides you with a clear goal for your business. Whether small-scale or large-scale, you need to draft an excellent business plan for your Zobo drinks The business plan of a small-scale business may not need to be as elaborate as a large-scale’s, but it is still a necessity nonetheless.

3. Determine a Business Strategy

A business plan helps you set business goals while a business strategy helps you accomplish these goals, and both are of equal importance. After drafting your business plan, it is important to come up with a business strategy as it helps you figure out the best approach to accomplishing your business goals.

4. Source for Capital

Because the Zobo drinks business is a low-investment one, getting the capital for it is easier as opposed to many other businesses. To get capital for a small-scale business, you could ask family and friends, or you could even save it up yourself. This is why the Zobo business is a go-to option for many young entrepreneurs. However, a large-scale Zobo business requires more capital so funding it might not be as easy as the small-scale business. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the capital for your large-scale Zobo drinks business.

  • Bank loans
  • Business grants
  • Angel investors (a person that funds a business in its early stages)
  • Crowdfunding

5. Secure a Location

The location of your Zobo business is a major contributor to the success of your business. Using a person who sells alcohol as a case study, if such a person sets up a store in a primary school, the success rate of that business is likely to be low. However, if that same business is taken to a restaurant that business would likely thrive. This is why market research is important. It helps you figure out the best location for your business and the chances of success in that area.

6. Register your Business

Registering your business is not a compulsory step for small-scale business owners but we highly recommend that you do so to avoid unnecessary complications. If you currently don’t have enough capital for the licensing processes, the production process can still begin as long as you have the intention to register your business later on. On the other hand, licensing for a large-scale Zobo business is not an option because there are dire consequences for the unauthorized production of consumables. Below is a list of registrations you would need to complete before your production processes can begin;

  • Business registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C.)
  • NAFDAC registration
  • Standard Organization of Nigeria (S.O.N) registration

There could be other required licenses, depending on your business location, but these are the basic permits you need.

7. Purchase the Required Ingredients and Equipment

The next step to take after completing registrations and obtaining the necessary licenses is to prepare for production. The basic equipment discussed earlier are suitable for small-scale Zobo drinks business but a large-scale business needs more complex machinery. Some of these machineries include;

  • Zobo extractor
  • Pasteurizer
  • Filter mixers
  • Bottle sealing machines
  • Labelling machines

Although preserving Zobo by pasteurization is generally not advised, it is the best option for large-scale Zobo drinks businesses. This is because the target market of a large-scale business consists of different classes of people, some of whom may not own a refrigerator. If you want your business to thrive you need to consider everyone and work towards making your drink the best option for all classes of people.

8. Begin The Production Process

Now that everything has been put in place, the production process can start. The best production style for your business is dependent on the nature of your business.

9. Package and Brand Your Drinks

Branding is important for both large-scale and small-scale businesses especially if you intend to expand your business later on. After producing the drinks, it is important to make them your own by packaging and branding them in a way that’s unique to you and your business.

10. Promotion and Marketing

Now that the products are ready, you need to boost sales by implementing effective customer acquisition strategies. The following tips would help you decide the best promotion strategy for your business;

i) Social media marketing

The world has gone digital and for this reason, we can’t talk about effective marketing strategies without including social media. Online content creators and influencers are a great help in this area.

ii) Online marketing

There are various ways to make the online world work for you and your business. These include blogging, email marketing, vlogging, and many more.

iii) Offline advertisement strategies

Offline advertisement strategies can be implemented in various methods too. TV ads, banners, flyers, business cards, etc are all the different ways to market your product to potential customers who may not have access to the internet.

How to Excel in The Zobo Drinks Business

1. Target Highly Populated Areas

Thanks to social media, more people have begun taking on healthier lifestyles by staying away from soda. Zobo happens to be a cheaper and healthier soda alternative. For this reason, there is a high chance that your product will be patronized as long as you make it available.

2. Be Unique

There are plenty of Zobo businesses out there, registered and unregistered. You need to give your customers a reason to patronize you. Come up with creative ideas to make your Zobo drink special. For example, we discussed Zobo flavours earlier, you could choose to mix different fruits to give your Zobo drink a taste unique to your product alone. The important thing is to ensure your Zobo drink stands out from the crowd.

3. Purchase Ingredients in Bulk

To cut costs, it is advisable to purchase ingredients in bulk. In the long run, purchasing ingredients in bits would cost you more than it would if you bought them in bulk. Also, for small-scale business owners, we would recommend that you purchase the essential equipment rather than renting them.

4. Don’t Compromise on Quality

Setting a high standard for your business and maintaining it is important for any business to thrive. You want your Zobo to be known for its rich, unique taste, and not its bland taste or its diminishing taste.

5. Creative Branding

Uniqueness in the branding of the Zobo drink is just as important as the uniqueness of its taste. A catchy brand name and design would go a long way in improving sales.

6. Open a Business Bank Account

While there is nothing wrong with using your current bank account for your business, it would be best if you opened a separate bank account. This is because owning a business bank account helps you organize your income and plan your finances. It also builds customer trust in its own way. If a customer wanted to pay for a product via wired transfer (bank transfer), after inputting the given account number and a business name shows up, the customer’s trust in the legitimacy of that business would increase. While the customer may not see you as a scammer if your name pops up, seeing your business name increases the customer’s confidence in the product being purchased. This is because owning a business bank account tells the customer that you take your business seriously.

Conclusion

A Zobo drinks business in Nigeria is a highly profitable business venture, and you have just boosted your chances of success by completing this article. We are confident that whether large-scale or small-scale, you will excel in this business. All that’s left is for you to put all you have read to good use.

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