Researchers at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) and Sano Foods have advocated for the inclusion of Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) puree in bread and other confectioneries to reduce cost.
The researchers disclosed that the root crop, due to its availability, short-term and non-requirement of special enzymes, presents cost-saving opportunities to bakers to ensure food affordability for Nigerians.
Dr. Oluwatoyin Oluwole, a researcher at FIIRO said the process of conversion of OFSP roots into puree for commercial bread production is simple and that the puree is readily available as there are existing industries producing OFSP puree in Nigeria.
“Economic viability studies conducted at FIIRO (2021) indicated that the net profit to sales, gross profit to sales, return on investments and return on equity were 10.92 percent, 15.60 percent, 28.34 percent and 70.84 percent in the first year of investment with profitability index of 2.2 and absolute profitability index of 3.2, all good indicators of positive economic and commercial viability of investing into production of bread with 20 per cent OFSP inclusion in the existing commercial recipe.”
According to the researchers, Nigeria’s wheat importation at 4.2 million metric tonnes yearly, with cost implication of $1.5 billion amid forex crisis, is unacceptable and avoidable.
A kg of wheat is currently N280, but a kg of OFSP puree is N180. Hence, bakers reduce the cost of production by N100 on every kg of OFSP puree used in bread baking.
“OFSP puree has also been used as a functional ingredient for wheat flour substitution in bread, and is being promoted as a nutrition intervention crop to tackle Vitamin-A Deficiency (VAD), a major public health concern of the poorer and food-insecure countries.
Oluwole stated that an advantage of the potato industrialisation is its short production cycle of between three and five months, making it better and cheaper than cassava flour inclusion.
In their latest research experiments, wheat flour, margarine, yeast, iodised salt and colorless granulated sugar were purchased from a local market in Lagos.
The orange fleshed sweet potato puree was collected from Sano Foods.
The researcher said loaf weight is basically determined by the quantity of dough baked and the amount of dough baked, and the amount of moisture and carbon dioxide diffuse out of the loaf.
“Loaf volume and specific volume are of paramount importance in bread quality evaluation. Loaf volume provides a quantitative measurement of baking performance with respect to the density of the bread crumb and the strength of the gluten in the flour,” the research found.
They concluded that the OFSP puree could be used at 20 per cent substitution level with reduced level of sugar in the commercial recipe for production of highly acceptable and nutritious bread.
“There is a saving of at least 5 percent reduction of added sugar of the commercial sugar level used in white bread production. There will be huge foreign exchange savings by 20 per cent of the annual importation of wheat grains into the country.
“There is no additional equipment requirement for inclusion of OFSP puree in bread production and confectioneries, existing commercial equipment are well adapted to the developed process technology,” the researchers said.
Dr. Solomon Olufemi Afuape, Head, Iresi Outstation, the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike (NRCRI), said competitive advantages of industrialising the OFSP roots for substitution include maturity within three to five months; production in almost all states of Nigeria; the country’s favourable condition; output of over four million tonnes and being the second highest producer in Africa.
These, he added, make it economically viable and environmentally sustainable, and would stimulate job creation as more farmers would produce the root crop profitably.