Home Latest Insights | News Beyond Product Reviews, The Lessons from Erisco Nagiko Tomato Mix

Beyond Product Reviews, The Lessons from Erisco Nagiko Tomato Mix

Beyond Product Reviews, The Lessons from Erisco Nagiko Tomato Mix

Many in our community have asked me to comment on the issue between a company which makes tomato paste (Erisco) and a citizen of our country. Largely, what happened was unfortunate as when such happens, Nigeria is losing. Yes, the Police have more important things to deal with. Nonetheless, we as citizens must be nuanced on comments we put online especially when it comes to brands since corporations are people. Yes, companies are people because they are owned by people.

In all these issues, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) captured my viewpoint: “While we acknowledge and encourage consumers’ right to voice legitimate complaints through appropriate channels, it is important to hold consumers accountable for spreading false information about local products and attempting to vilify local manufacturers in the public opinion place. Hence, the need for equal protection of manufacturers and consumers’ rights.

“The case in question underscores the importance of diligent investigation as carried out by the Lagos State consumer protection agency and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria which exonerated the manufacturer of the said product. The two agencies should actually be commended for unravelling the truth of the case,” – MAN statement.

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Yes, there is a  “need for equal protection of manufacturers and consumers’ rights”. Of course, bullying is not acceptable. But consumers must be careful. Why this point?

A few years ago, someone put up billboards in Accra that I was coming to an event; I knew nothing about this event. Some of our community members here paid the fee and went, hoping to connect with me. The organizer lied and said “Professor canceled at the last minute…” One guy, annoyed, went online and wrote many negative things about a village boy. I reached out, explained and we understood. Then, he deleted and apologized. That has happened in Owerri where you could be listed in events you are not aware of, and people based on that will touch your webinality. 

Lesson here: in the Igbo Nation, there is this axiom ‘ndo na-ala uwa azi’ [sorry heals most pains]. Yes, as consumers and commenters, we can just say “SORRY” and “APOLOGIZE” when it turns out we could be wrong. Possibly, you bought a counterfeited product and your reviews could be off-target, as Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) has provided here. NAFDAC also wrote: “The formulation of tomato paste and ketchup products with sugar is safe for consumption” for this product.

That said, Nigeria has more important things to deal with, and I call the lawyers to chill.  This is way too long and they need to share handshakes and close this matter. Consumers have rights. Manufacturers have rights. But those are not absolute and someone could be exercising rights on a fake product. And most importantly, we need to free the Police so that the Force can focus on important things.

Generally, the company has made many mistakes; it could have invited this consumer to trial a genuine product and learn from her views. And the consumer could have offered an apology on the possibility she reviewed a fake product.  Someone must bring them together.


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26 THOUGHTS ON Beyond Product Reviews, The Lessons from Erisco Nagiko Tomato Mix

  1. The manufacturer that seems bent on teaching the consumer some lesson, what is the end goal? What could victory in this kind of squabble look like? I am not sure how the superior can unleash his full power on the inferior and still sees himself as the victim, even when the inferior is at fault. Human judgment does not work like that, it is always the superior that must show restraint, the inferior does not need to be right anyway.

    Companies must employ at least some bright and clean cut professionals, the ones who know how to manage public blowback. The whole thing has been too messy and pathetic, you cannot win such battles by taking the low road.

    We still undervalue the usefulness of elite education and civility here, enough of these crass and thuggery behaviours. There’s no excuse or explanation that will be adequate in this level of mismanagement of goodwill. If not that people are oppressive by default here, there’s really no case in this. Smart and well educated people have a way of embarrassing their ignorant counterparts, without needing to touch them, and it’s more effective than any aggression you put out there. Sensemaking is a thing.

  2. I would not have known about the review if the woman was not arrested and ferried on possibly taxpayers money to Abuja.
    That captures the whole story.
    Same woman could have been invited to a free demonstration and the matter will end there.
    Both parties did not bargain for what is happening now but whichever you look at it was it worth it arresting the woman?, she could have been invited, sued, etc.
    Thank you.

  3. Even if the citizen in question was wrong in her assessment of the product, it is the company’s duty to enlighten her. This was a great PR opportunity squandered by Erisco. It is very unfortunate.

  4. The consumer is absolutely wrong in this case,but unfortunately,her lawyer urges her on,as he absolutely suffers nothing in all this.

    • This is indeed where the problem lies, bad advise from people who claim to be smart.
      Erisco has no fault here, he’s just defending his brand from a troll.

      • The product reviewer was absolutely wrong because the review itself was not scientifically based or proven. That fact alone nullifies her review and makes it look like a sponsored attack on the product itself.

  5. You are still unfair to the Erisco as a company. Your comment is highly biased, you are probably afraid of the obidient mob calling you out and unfollowing your brand. Erisco reached out to the so called reviewer, she apologised but later backtracked when the arrogant lawyer, Inibehe took over the case. The lawyer wants to use social media/influencers to garner public sympathy and armtwist Erisco food into submission. Erisco shouldn’t back down. It’s an opportunity to test our cybercrime jurisprudence. The girl’s Lawyer is stoking fire, thinking that social media gives him leverage.

    • The company has no effective PR,The owner wants to take everything,Sometimes when these illiterate business men wants to establish a company they go for cheap ways to maximize profits

    • My man she apologised under threat.honestly if erisco had not bullied the woman someone like me wouldn’t have known that there was any reviews.i wouldn’t even have linked nagiko brand to erisco.

  6. She was arrested and taken to Abuja bcos of a review.
    That mere act shows the defect in Erisco PR management.
    Did you see any of Erisco managers doing press briefing to defend Erisco? No.
    Didn’t they have brand and marketing professionals?
    Mr CEO, know it all….is the only disgraceful face of the company bent and vowing to rather die than withdraw d case.

    • You do not realize that the consumer you are supporting went ahead to defame a product whose makers hire hundreds of hardworking Nigerians on their payroll? What if she had been left to rant uncontrolled and Erisco packed up due to the bad press? Do you realize how many innocent people would lose their only source of livelihood? Do you know how hard it is to get a job in this country?
      Erisco has every right to protect their name , integrity and the reputation of the hundreds of employees who work hard to get their products to the market. Ignorant people with smartphones must learn that there are laws for a reason

      • Wrong sir. How has Coke survived the 7 cubes of sugar story. How has RedBull survived the negatives about drinking energy drink. How has other brands survived negatives around their brands. Cowbell at a times was said to be made from Soya
        How did they survive? So because there.a.millions of people working in Erisco we should not say how we fill about a product or service. So because a lot of Nigeria are working in a particular and they have been fraudulent with charges you keep quiet. This is not right

      • Erisco did the same thing 2015, when he came on television bashing other tomato brands, he couldn’t take what he dished to others, no one arrested him

  7. Nafdac should emphasize listing the contents of every product,so if I see any content which is allergic to my health on any product I will not buy

  8. The consumer talked about sugar in the product. NAFDAC and other agencies acknowledged its presence in the product, why did the manufacturer not list the composition on the label? Both parties are probably wrong and a simple hand shake and apology should close this unfortunate case. While the company may have its way in court, the damage on the products is gaining grounds. Before now, I never knew sugar is part of the manufacturing ingredients and I have decided to go pure tomatoes.

  9. I believe a consumer has a right to express him/herself driven by their engagement with the brand.
    Brands are custodians of trust. In building brands we invest in both emotional and rational elements around the brand. However , managing brand success could lead to a growth or decline of a brand.
    I will like to have idea of the impact of this issue on the brand. A growth or decline. Irrespective of what NADFAC or SON has said concerning the wholesomeness or manufacturing standards, the custodian of brand wealth is in the hands of the consumer. They are the ones taking the risk of investing in our brand story.
    What has the police got to do with this case? Absolutely nothing! As a brand custodian what I would have done was to check my offering against other brands around the area that was called out by the lady
    You can also personally engage and clarify your product
    There is nothing wrong with what she has said. Not until this was said did I actually know that sugar is an ingredient in Tomato puree.
    I believe the consumer protection agency should call the Erisco to order. That you have won awards does not mean that your brand should sit well with all consumers. This is a no-no. This is why it is called ‘choice’.
    Choice is expressed by behaviour or expressed verbally.
    I believe Erisco missed an opportunity to further entrench their brand in the minds of their loyal shopper/consumer and recruiting news users.

  10. Prof, I see absolutely no sense in your verdict. The woman in question has every right to adjudge the sugar in Erisco’s tomato paste as “too much” (compared to other brands she had used.) Erisco initially tried to hide the fact that there is even a grain of sugar in the said product until NAFDAC voiced that it isn’t bad practice. As a product user, your review doesn’t have to be scientifically established as someone has said he, and as such can be very subjective.
    All Erisco needed to do was to take advantage of a seemingly unfavorable review, teach the public about her product, and promote her product.

    When I first read this story, I saw the possibility of a backlash in the form of boycott of the product…. not because of the review, but because of Erisco’s attitude and approach. It is very oppressive. I, for one, have decided NEVER to buy any product with the Erisco label because of this terrible attitude….

    Chioma has done nothing wrong. Erisco should manage it’s CEO’s ego better than this. Someone had listed instances where products suffered severe negative conspiracies, yet the management never called fire and brimstone on any Nigerian, even when there were feelings that the origin of the conspiracies is traceable to makers of competing brands. Erisco should apologize to Chiomafor all the unnecessary wahala she has gone through. Police involvement in all these is another bitter aspect of it. If Erisco had gone to court, it would have made more sense than this show off force against a helpless, innocent woman.
    Again, as a product user, you don’t need to own a lab to establish what grams of sugar there is in a tin of Erisco, your taste buds are enough to tell you whether it’s just like, more, or less than what you have tasted in the other brands you have frequently used, which is what Chioma did.

    • You are not factual in this comment. If what you said here is the only fact, we will not be wasting time here. My understanding is that she wrote that the product is “killing” people. I am not sure if the “too much” sugar is the issue. I am not a lawyer to understand the meaning of “killing”. But if someone calls your customer and tells your customer that your product is “killing” people, you will likely ask for an apology. If that person apologizes and you both move on… and the person later un-apologizes, you will not just allow it to go. The good news is that they’re in court which is what every democratic society is built for. She can prove the “killing” and the company will explain why they even need to arrest her for this.

      • Easy to prove, because a lot of people are dying of high blood sugar, heart failure, etc, the doctors advice not to consume hiden sugar products to avoid obesity, heart attacks, and many more health issues, in other words any sugary food is killing people without they even knowing. Yes the right word is killing. Honest people who tell the truth are in jail. And the liars are free, don’t think you will get away with this, God is watching everything you do.

      • I think her lawyer will know how to argue this out.

        In so many situations, the word “killing” is not used by people to imply literal death or being deceased. If someone says, “This headache is killing me”, it means its negative or distressing impact is high. … Or, “This pain is killing me” … It’s clear that such pain is much and getting unbearable.

        Saying that a product, alleged as having extraordinarily high sugar content, is killing people, does not mean the lady in question needs to provide empirical proof of actually deceased people. It simply means (and I can sense that’s what she meant) that the product is potentially hurting people’s health by having that much sugar content.

        Those railing that she should provide proof of those it killed (past tense) are either too quick to impute context, or simply narrow-minded.

        There are so many things that are “killing” people today – junk fast food, vehicle fumes on a daily basis, and even poorly treated sachet water which people consume daily, among a host of other “killers”. Cancers, diabetes, etc. are on the rise. So, it’s more of cautionary, as per the potential to harm, than an allegation that the product had actually sent anyone to the grave.

        However, from the customer sentiment side of things, the tomato company (through the person of its CEO) has poorly managed this entire saga.

        So, the prosecution will try to amplify the “killing” part, but her lawyer should be up to the task to moderate the weight of what she meant, especially as the accused NEVER literally spelt out the word “killing”. She said k***ing. An AriseTV interview with the lady’s lawyer, expresses this notion in part.

  11. It’s important all ingredients used are label on products we buy so that you check and see before buying,who knew apart from the so called staffs of Erisco that there’s elements of sugar in tomato mix. In a country where many people are suffering high blood pressure related illness. The Consumer Protection Council need to live to it expectation of the masses by making sure all ingredients are label.Better to use fresh tomatoes than sugary can tomato.

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