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    On Erisco Tomato Vs Chioma PR Fiasco

    I know I don’t like to comment on trending matters as my job on the Internet is not to contribute to anyone’s traffic. But I have to comment on these Chioma and Erisco matters.

    Firstly, I hate blackmail and defamation. One reason I avoid commenting on matters I have no information on. Secondly, I hate oppression and would rather die than be oppressed. There are legitimate ways to use the police to seek justice. Once you start using the police in a manner to intimidate and harass one into submission you lose me.

    Thirdly, it is basic in PR that brands should avoid any form of negative news even when they are right. The ideal thing is to settle as quickly as possible as reputational damage takes a lot of cash to repair. Did you notice that since after the clash, Erisco has employed a social media manager and trying to repair things? That’s the cost.

    Back to the issue, Tomato concentrate also called pastes is prepared through a process called evaporation to reduce the water content of the tomato juice. To increase the Total Solid( TS) a lot of solids are added, including sugar, soya and others. The end product of that paste is usually 20-30% tomatoes while the rest are additives. Take any tomato paste and check the back you will see sugar listed as one of the additives.

    So, when Chioma had her first taste of Erisco tomato paste and felt it had too much sugar, she was not wrong. Our tastebuds react differently, what might be moderate to some might be high for others. I believe she accurately reported what her taste buds felt in her initial post.

    Erisco Tomato

    In the comment section, she responded to a comment by saying

    ” help me to advise your brother to stop ki***ng people with his product, yesterday was my first time of using and its pure sugar. Tueh!”

    Many people have taken this quote literally to mean that Erisco products have killed people.

    But the context is there: The product had high sugar content based on her tastebud and too much sugar leads to increased chances for diabetics and those who are hypertensive  The WHO, NAFDAC and other relevant agencies are warning about sugar consumption. Regulations are also made all over the place to discourage soda consumption just because of sugar.

    Do you know who else is worried about sugar in tomato paste? Eric Umeofia the CEO of Erisco, in an interview reported by the Vanguard Newspaper, the Chairman of Erisco food was reported to have said referring to imported tomato paste

    ” Apart from the cancer-causing colouring, the starch[ starch can be equated as sugar in this context]  contained in those products is clearly harmful to unsuspecting diabetic patients”

    The inference here is that unknowingly Chioma and Eric agree that Sugar in tomato paste is dangerous to diabetic patients. The only issue is that Eric made the statement to protect his business and set up tomato operators with NAFDAC the regulator, then thinks Chioma is doing the same to him.

    Nigerians love to think in binary- a we v them mentality. Eric rather than take this great opportunity to launder his brand thinks someone has been paid to destroy his business. This is typical of Nigerians in leadership. Criticise your Alumni or Umunna chairman and he will leave the subject to create imaginary humans paying you to do so.

    In any case, I wish Chioma gets a good lawyer, not the legendary noise maker who is representing her. I would like them to prove if Erisco is manufacturing in Nigeria or is an importer of concentrate, hence falls under the category of people he referred to in that Vanguard Interview.

    PS: I began to use Erisco in 2015/2016 in my support of Nigerian brands even when the paste didn’t look so good to me. I purchased it anytime I saw it on the shelf. In 2018, I focused my M.sc Seminar on the challenges of Tomato paste manufacturers in Nigeria focusing on Erisco whose plant was close to me. Their plant is at Ikeja just behind Ikeja City Mall. They refused me to come into their facility and I began to suspect that they did not manufacture but did like everyone else.


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