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Instant noodles have more or less become a staple in Nigeria, especially among children. It can be prepared in just a few minutes. The high food demand, due principally to the increasing population and urbanisation, the severe shortage of time on the part of bachelors, spinsters and working mothers, the general change in feeding habits and increasing westernisation have combined to make the eating of instant noodles very popular.
Instant noodles have repeat sales tendency and the transportation cost per Naira value of the product is low. So apart from producing to satisfy local demand, one can embark on export to earn scarce foreign exchange. Currently in Nigeria, we are aware of only one or two producers. So there is more than enough room for new entrants into this line of business.
The major raw material is wheat powder having ash content of between 0.5 and 0.4%. Others are carbonic salt, common salt and lard (oil). Carbonic salt water gives the noodles special stickiness, elasticity, smoothness and taste, while lard is for frying. Common slat helps make the noodles homogeneous, regulates the stickiness and adds salty taste.
Other flavouring or seasoning additives include onion powder, MSG, Hydrolysed vegetable protein (preferably soybean-based), chilli powder, phosphoric acid, salt, starch powder, etc. The noodles can be fortified by adding industry-approved quantities of such vitamins as B and D. The flavourings (called soup) are usually packed separately in small cellophane before being enclosed in the packaged fried noodles.
For packing, one needs poly-cellophane (300 mm x 190 mm), carton boxes (which may contain about 30 pieces) and packing tape. One can see that virtually all the raw materials needed can be obtained locally. The rest can be imported.
The machinery and equipment needed are:
Noodle making machine
Measuring and cutting equipment
Accessories- steam boiler, edible and heavy oil tanks, kneader base, chimney and furnace materials.
The first four items will be imported and come in one block. Utilities like electricity (35kwh), heavy oil (40kg) and steam (200kg) are needed. A standby generator of appropriate capacity is a must to ensure adequate power supply.
Nine distinct processes are involved in the production of noodles and these are briefly described below. Wheat powder and additives are dissolved in carbonic salt solution for about 10 to 15 minutes making sure that the quantity of water and salt is such that the required viscosity is maintained, as this is influenced by atmospheric temperature.
The noodles are now cut and the weight calculated, bearing in mind dough thickness, weight and the conditions under which the dough was made. The cut-measured noodles are now steamed. During this process, the protein in the dough changes to alpha-protein because of heat. This makes the dough strips stickier and smoother in just one minute and under the steam pressure of 1.5-2.5kg/cm.
On getting out of the measure cut machine, the noodles curl and are now put in cases in order to prevent deformation during frying. The cased noodles are fried. This process eliminates moisture, secures a permanent form for the noodles and promotes the process of alphanisation. This takes 1 to 1.5 minutes at a temperature of 140oC-150oC.
The fried noodles are then cooled with air in order to solidify the lard (oil) used in frying, which has now fixed on the surface of the strip noodles. After this, they are packaged in polycellopahne bags measuring 300cm x 190cm before being packed in carton boxes containing 30 packs of noodles. The cartons are cello taped and the instant noodles are ready for the market after they have been inspected for form, quality, colour and weight.
The total number of people needed to run one shift of production is 18 and includes workers of various skills. Being a food processing business, the investor should ensure proper hygiene and adequate recruitment and training of the relevant skilled line staff.
Implementing this project will take the following steps:
Commissioning the preparation of a comprehensive feasibility study
Acquisition and development of the project site
Erection of the factory and buildings
Sourcing for funds
Purchasing project vehicles
Recruiting and training relevant staff
Purchasing and installing the machinery, equipment and necessary utilities
Test running and commissioning of the factory for commercial operation.
Food processing is the industry of the future, particularly in a country where the relevant industrial raw materials are abundant. This project is highly recommended to serious industrialists as it will attract financing from industrial development banks because of its profitability, innovativeness, value added advantages, future prospects and overall effects in the development of the economy.