Is 2022 the year for Gala to look back?
Happy New Year. It’s okay, you don’t have to say it back. However, in the meanwhile, before you traipse on to the next post in this newspaper, shall we take a moment to do a what-the-heck-did-we-just-witness for the recently departed year 2021? Shall we, please? Thank you. Also, kindly note that, as we embark on this urgent, expecting, post-mortem, we shall focus our mental energies on one area that’s most crucial to every Nigerian: products of Nigerian origin. Now, let us begin with Gala.
When will Gala go back to being the little feast wrapped in transparent, crackling plastic? Or, is the party done? As a forty-something-year-old person, I am old enough to remember the once beautiful specialness of Gala, a specialness that’s now impossible to imagine was ever truly there.
When it was itself, Gala arrived as a handy pastry, baked dough wrapped around a taut string of sausage. You could in fact chomp on the meat at the heart of Gala for at least 120 seconds, savouring the baked-in marinade, before, reluctantly, letting it go. But these days, the sausage inside Gala will surely disintegrate into a nebulous pink powder if you look at it too intensely.
Should we choose to listen to analysts, the reason for Gala’s steady change in form has been the Nigerian economy. The naira, they contend, has been having a recurring accident for decades and is currently in a state of hyperventilation. And, like many other companies operating in Nigeria, UAC Foods, which has been making Gala since 1962, has seen itself forced to shuffle a few things so that Gala will not only still be available as a handy quick snack but also continue to robustly feed the bottom line of UAC itself.
Sadly, though, if UAC keeps juggling what it’s been juggling, it may soon break something. At the rate at which Gala has continued to evolve (please don’t say ‘devolve’?), Gala may transmute into a completely different product. If that will be a good thing is a separate conversation that we may have to have someday.
Right now, notwithstanding the aggressive elbowing by competing for beef roll brands, Gala holds fast as the supreme ruler of its segment. However hard they may try, Rite Foods’s Bigi, Chi Limited’s SuperBite, and Leventis Foods’s Meaty have only proven that, when it comes to ground-beef-in-a-dough, the consumer isn’t that demanding and the market is indeed large enough to contain 12 disparate presentations of the same idea while still leaving Gala as the undisputed leader.
Which is why, at this moment, we have to humbly submit to Gala’s marketing wisdom and say this to UAC: No Pressure. No pressure at all. As long as no saucy upstart brands burst onto the scene to cataclysmically disrupt this existing business model, Gala should be fine. Gala, Nigeria’s premier sausage roll, has got a positive perception for days. It’s also got extreme familiarity. And UAC’s monstrous distribution infrastructure is solidly behind it. So, yes, Gala should be just okay. Even if it waters down its recipe a little more, nothing may change.
How The Big Nigerian Moment May Continue Into This New Year
While we’re still on the topic of change, Nigeria really did have a monumental international cultural impact in 2021, thanks to its showbiz products. For instance, Nigerian creatives completely owned Ameno, the 25-year-old solemn metaphysical song by E.R.A., which Nigerian deejays and hype men ebulliently remixed into a club banger and with it cast a spell on the rest of the world.
It was also the year of heightened international recognition for the new Nigerian sound. Ghanaian popstar Shattawale may nurse a deep grouse about how charitable Nigerian Afrobeats superstars are with their fame and fortune, but what’s done is done and is permanently on record for all of eternity. Afrobeats from Nigeria dominated global TikTok, pulled in brilliant collaborations between a slew of young Nigerian singers and established Grammy winners such as Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran.
In film, never forget the expanded channels that opened for Nigerian filmmakers via Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Showmax. A massive tip of the hat to the latest sectoral champions: Kunle Afolayan, Mo Abudu, Kemi Adetiba, Funke Akindele, Clarence Peters, and Ben Amadasun.
All of these so happen to be additional achievements on top of the commercial breakthroughs made by homegrown tech companies. A quick rundown of Africa’s most accomplished start-ups of 2021 will include several Nigerians, including shock arrivals as peer-to-peer cash transfer company, Abeg; crypto payments platform, Patricia, and the tech-enabled mobility company, Moove.
When it comes to global business, the promise of tech is that it’s about to fling the door wide open to Nigerian creatives, businesspeople, and virtual tourists. The year 2022 begins with the metaverse as everyone’s favourite Next Big Thing. And then there are NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) which persist in their often-mystifying allure.
It’s going to be a remarkable year and, as journalists, we’ll be here to present the particular insights that’ll power the next remarkable accomplishments.