Nigerians are Ordering Pizza and Having it Delivered on British Airways

Testifying before a Nigerian Senate committee last week the country’s Minister of Agriculture called out wealthy Nigerians whom he says are ordering pizza from London.

Do you know, sir, that there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London; they buy in London and bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport. It is a very annoying situation and we have to move a lot faster in cutting down some of these things.

The daily British Airways Boeing 747 from London Heathrow to Lagos, Nigeria departs London at 11:20 a.m. and arrives at 5:55 p.m. — just in time for dinner.

Like President Trump, Nigeria is very worried over trade deficits.

Nigeria’s agriculture minister says Nigeria has become “a nation of importers” complaining that “Toothpick every year costs us 18 million dollars; tomato paste costs us 400 million dollars.” It’s not clear who ‘us’ is other than the people buying the tomato paste because they value it more than other things they might spend their money on. Perhaps he believes consumers aren’t getting a good enough deal on tomato paste, though if that were the case he’d push to lower tariffs.

Instead he declares that by the end of the year Nigeria “can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop” importing. What a weird notion of trade. Trading money for tomato sauce at the grocery store effectively means you have a trade deficit with the grocery store, since they aren’t buying produce back from you. Moving the grocery store outside of the U.S. or Nigeria doesn’t change the calculus.

Nonetheless, while the government is attacking Nigerians for conspicuous consumption their charges are incredibly light on specifics,

  • Is it UberEATS or GrubHub that’s picking up the pizza and flying it down on British Airways?
  • Or perhaps it’s being transported as cargo?
  • And why can’t you get good pizza in Lagos? Colleagues who have been to Juba rave about the pizza — if you’re an international aid worker with a Western income spending time in South Sudan, the locals will figure out a way to meet your desire for pizza since you’ll pay a premium for it.

Personally I’d never want to ship food via British Airways cargo.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is strange on so many levels, not the least of which is, if you’re going to import pizza into Nigeria, why not get it from Italy?

  2. Yeah, the good people of Lagos must be hard-up for pizza if they link Limey pizza is good pizza.

    Yes, Nigel, please put corn on my pizza.

  3. Maybe it’s the dough balls from Pizza Express that they’re after. I mean, I contemplated how I could safely get some home to Idaho during my last trip to London…

  4. Pour Gary. So much of your food is shipped as belly cargo. And you apparently don’t know it!

  5. Let’s be honest, this is a story about Nigera, a country with terrible corruption. The REAL story they are hiding is that when the pizza box arrives, over half of the pizza has already been siphoned away! 😀

  6. Nigeria is the largest producer of tomatoes in Sub Saharan African Africa, but still a net importer. They also lose something like 40-75% to spoilage.

    A tomato paste factory owned by Africa’s richest man reopened a couple of weeks ago after being idled a couple of years over tomato price and supply issues – likely related to an infestation issue with a moth-spread disease which was killing their tomatoes.

    This isn’t some cute “imaginary deficit” – the country was spending a billion dollars a year importing tomato paste (depending on what numbers you look at) while 3/4 of the domestic crop spoiled.

  7. I ordered delivery pizza in Sao Paulo. It cost about 5 times what it cost in the US. I figured out why it was so expensive. The traffic was so bad, they could only do one delivery per night.

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