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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why do we import food from China?

Tanzania imported melamine-laced milk & milk products. I would not be surprised if some Kenyan firms unwittingly did the same.

The chinese on the other hand have been lobbying African governments not to 'penalize' chinese milk imports! The chinese trade representative in Kenya issued a statement indicating that Kenya should not ban chinese milk products. Sure that's his job but are we fools?

Why do we need to import so many food products?
Why not have:
Weetabix not Kellogg's Cornflakes?
local Cadbury's not Lindt's/Hersheys/imported chocs?
local Minute Maid not Ceres/imported brands?
EABL products not Heineken/Castle (brewed in TZ & S.Africa)?
local sodas not same brands from middle east?

I have consistently argued that Kenyan (& African) consumers have a warped sense of consumerism regarding food products. We 'idolize' imported foods. Some local firms need to be do better & we have to hammer them on quality BUT the obsession with imports?

Go to any Nakumatt & it seems 50% of the food products are imported!!!


Anonymous said...

It is about, marketing, branding, customer focus, things many Kenyan businesses do not seem to believe in.

Kenyan manufacturers tend to be like the American auto-manufacturers, talking about customers, but upper mgmt. does not seem to be really interested in real customer service, marketing, branding, etc.

The advertising, market positioning, heck any marketing that actually focuses on what the customer wants is sorely lacking.

Minute Maid is not even Kenyan, and hence the company has already lost one defensible marketing position. How would any other brand be able to compete with a local mango passion fruit juice? How would any be able to compete with juices marketed to address an East African woman or man's desires and needs? Do any of the manufacturers even know their needs, desires and wants?
Nakumatt is marketing products that fulfill the customers wants, the aspirational customer. They are selling goods that say "I have arrived", "all the struggles I went through were worth it". Are any manfacturers willing to create aspirational brands?
For example, Weetabix is brand I associate with staid boring, maybe even colonial. Can one see how I would avoid that? Now think what children think when they see that brand, does it say anything to chilldren?

MainaT said...

Sorry CT. Off-topic. I am not the only who thinks WB goofed on GS.

coldtusker said...

Anon: Why anon?

Yes, I agree with some of your observations. Kenyans firms - coz of a 'closed' economy for many years - were the only choice we had.

BUT Kenyans need to get off the 'aspirational' bandwagon.

I stick with my staid weetabix - I can't stand the sugary cereals.

Of course, my examples relate primarily to middle class & above but that is a growing market & Nakumatt's growth is proof.

The savings in forex & creation of local jobs would be immense if Kenyans went 'local'.

Minute Maid is owned by Coca Cola but at least there is some local content.

coldtusker said...

MainaT: Chief... let's talk about WB in 5 years...

He has WARRANTS for GS stock at $115. He will continue getting 10% p.a. on his $5bn.

So even if he never exercises the warrants he still makes a decent return.

Only downside is if GS implodes.

toiyoi said...


Because most people (95%) and perhaps 99% of those in poor places such as african are dumb, that is why.

How else do you explain the fact that some celebrate nakumatt's message of "I have arrived", "all the struggles I went through were worth it".

What could be dumber than that?

My foot, informed consumers everywhere (the west etc) running away from these fattening-sickening products and going for the original natural/organic stuff( which is what we mostly have in the rural areas and we are now rejecting for the sake of "i have arrived")

he he he