Nigeria is missing out on around $150 million in footwear exports a year because people prefer to "eat their shoes", a master tanner claimed on Sunday.

Gambo Paiko told news24.com the traditional practice of eating animal hides is costing the country millions of dollars in foreign exchange earnings.

"Every year more than 1.6 million pieces of hides and skins out of the 1.7 million pieces produced in Nigeria end in soup pots," he said adding that people prefer to "eat their shoes" despite higher imports of used footwear.