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Monday, February 23, 2009

Buy Kenyan, Build Kenya

Kenyans need to make good choices. Now. To save themselves.

Buy Kenyan

It is as simple as that.

Let me state from the outset. Kenyan manufacturers need to be price & quality competitive. This is not a choice for them. They need to give Kenyans value.

For those who cry 'protectionism', I am NOT advocating tariff barriers or quotas or subsidies. I do encourage additional (non-monetary i.e. subsidies) incentives for Kenyan firms like better roads/infrastructure, staff training, lower tax rates, etc.

Your local Nakumatt (or Tusky or Uchumi or grocer) stocks too many foreign goods esp foods. Kenya is an agricultural country. We need to become a major agro-processor as well.

Baked Beans (I like Baked Beans on Toast)

Kenylon (Kabazi Canners of Kenya) manufactures baked beans but it seems Heinz (imported from the UK via Dubai) seems to has a larger display. There are other local brands BUT the imported brands dominate.

So why does Kenya need to import baked beans?

If Nakumatt sells 100,000 cans of Heinz beans (89/-) per month, that would 'save' Kenya $1,200,000 (Kes 100,000,000) annually. 'Save' above means reduce the need for forex to fund imports. I am assuming retail margins of 10%

KShs 100 mn paid to Kabazi means a good portion goes to local farmers, factory workers, other local manufacturers & transporters. And this gets recycled into the local economy as these 'beneficiaries' buy other local goods.

Butter & Cheese

Why does Kenya import butter from New Zealand via Dubai?

KCC, Brookside, Daima, etc has great milk products. We export to the middle east, so why do we import these? We used to import milk products from China. Why?

Kenyan farmers will increase production IF we reduce imports thus boosting local demand.

Snacks/Chocolates/Prepared Foods

I am amazed that Kenya imports crisps, chocolates, biscuits, cereals, chevda (among other Indian snacks), etc

Kenyans produce great products so why the need to import???

Crisps - Krackles, Tropical Heat, etc
Chocolates - Cadburys, Out of Africa (though most ingredients are imported)
Biscuits - House of Manji (the best Digestives), Brittania
Cereals - Weetabix (local), Procter & Allan, etc
Indian snacks - Tropical Heat, Deeps, etc

Kenyan products in this category are generally cheaper than the imports yet we blow away forex & the creation of local jobs.

Why do Kenyans buy 'prepared foods' when we can hire or buy freshly prepared foods locally. As for convenience, there are local firms & SMEs in the market.

Juices/Squashes (fruit drink mixes)

Why don't Kenyans buy more locally produced juice or juice blends or even fruit drink mixes.

There are many local players in this market including:

Del Monte (locally grown pineapples)
Quencher (mainly fruit drink mixes)

And even when we import juices, why not just concentrates that can be re-constituted & packed in Kenya.

And why not drink FRESHLY SQUEEZED juices. Creates jobs for maids, hotel/restaurant workers, etc. Kenyan 'fruit juice' businesses need to lower prices for freshly squeezed juices. I miss the fresh fruit carts in Nairobi's CBD. I could get a juicy slice of pineapple for a mere 10/-.


I know Kenyan spirts leave little to the imagination but there is hope. Let's by more EABL, Keroche & London Distiller products.

There are few local wines (Mara is imported from S.Africa). Locally produced wines should attract lower taxes. There are other fruit wines that can be produced from locally grown fruits including:

- Passion fruits (I recall passiflora but too dry for my tastes)
- Oranges
- Mango (Has anyone tried?)
- Pineapples (I used to brew a weak version)
- Sugarcane (Rum)

I buy the local Kenya Gold (instead of the imported Baileys) & the local Smirnoff (vs imported vodkas).

And the above is a small sample of the imports. We could 'save' at least $100,000,000 in forex annually if we looked inwards. Add the jobs Kenya could create & the Global Financial Crisis would look less daunting.


pink m said...

I am stubbornly a buy Kenyan fanatic. I don't really like KCC cheese, especially the packaging, but you'll never find anything else in the fridge.

Cadbury's remain my favourite chocolates of all time.

coldtusker said...

Pink M: I wish more Kenyans followed your example.

It freaks me out to see imported prepared meals at Nakumatt at a price equivalent to a freshly prepared dinner at Books First.

Have you tried other cheeses e.g. Daima or Raka? They have a decent smorgasbord.

bankelele said...

Great topic,

Let me do a mini post here
Baked Beans: Kenylon only for me
Butter: I’d only buy local Brookside or KCC - same with yoghurt. I noticed Hilton
Meat: FYI Gilani’s at ABC will procure any small meat duck, turkey, pheasant, I’m told
Snacks: tough to find, all the chocolates seem to come from the mid-east but for sure tropical heat crisps, House of Manji and Weetabix
You buy Kenya gold? That stuff looks wicked
Juices & water: now this is where it gets crazy – we have great juices from a half companies including Pick & Peel (Kevian) and Del Monte (stop beating up trespassers)
Yet you find butter from South Africa at the Hilton and oranges form South Africa at Uchumi why?

coldtusker said...

I admit that Imports have forced Kenyan firms to improve packaging & quality.

One import which makes little sense is BEER. Kenyans have great beers... Yet Kenya imports beer!

Banks: Kenya Gold is a little too sweet but mixed with cream/milk it is a great substitute for Baileys.

Maishinski said...

This is an excellent piece. I'll keep that in mind.

Kenyan products 4 life!

Maishinski said...

Local tourism too...

Anonymous said...

fabulous post! Firstly, Kenylon rocks and nothing comes close to pick and peel tropical especially with a bit of kenyan tonic water in there...I have a few issues with delmonte so I don't buy their stuff but Kakuzi has greatly improved on their pineapples. Like Bankelele I'm a bit iffy with Kenya gold but I will give it a try. KCC is one of the best butters in the world that I have ever laid my taste buds on. I'm doing my thesis on dairy cooperatives and so look for all the small dairy coop produce - they all do some great stuff. So yes...we should all go local!!!

ke said...

I only drink Kenyan tea and Kenyan coffee is considered a gourmet product in America, but I'm seeing a lot more Rwandese and Ethiopian coffee nowadays.

Buy Kenya is good, but if they could increase production, they could export their products abroad and compete in the natural foods/gourmet/organic products market. However, to do that, they'd have to be willing to go through stringent testing and quality standards, but if they did, they could export their goods to America.

Even in the recession, people still want healthy, toxin free, organic food and they are willing to pay extra for it, but so far, the only thing I've seen is kenyan coffee.

Rafiki said...

Great post! Thanks for bringing this up.
If you guys just buy Kenyan products because they are Kenyan, we will never get there, since it will not encourage these companies to continuously improve on their products. You have to buy them because they give you a good price/quality. And quality is the key issue really. I don't mind paying 10 or 20 times more for excellent quality. Kenyan companies need to produce products that can compete in the region or even globally.
pink m: Cadbury chocolates are okay, but not if you have tasted brands like Godiva.
coldtusker: Raka cheeses are superb, I agree with you on that one! But I don't agree with you on the Kenyan beers (apart from Sierra maybe).
I am with banks and misschee on Pick $ Peel (Tropical Mix).
I buy many Kenyan products, not because they are Kenyan, but because they offer me superior quality over money. But I don't boycot or fear foreign products either. Who would buy a Nyayo car?

MainaT said...

Buy quality NSE shares, land, clothes, bata shoes.
There is a shop in London that is importing Kenyan food including Blueband. We go there once a month

Excellent topic.

coldtusker said...

missche: Good luck on the thesis.

Maishinski: Thanks. Local tourism could be so much more. And y so pricey?

KE: Same here. Folks lit up when I said I am from Kenya. Runners & Coffee. Starbucks put us on the map.

Rafiki: Tusker Malt is very good for mainstream beers. I like Sierra as well.

Raka cheeses are a lil' pricey but very good. The food show at Sarit was an eye-opener.

coldtusker said...

MainaT: I used to lug bottles of Peptang hot sauces. I return to Kenya & everyone is chugging tabasco.

P.S. I admit I have a thing for the original Tabasco but the prices in Kenyan shops are insane.

On Del Monte: I am not comfy with all that happens to suspected (or actual) thieves at Del Monte but DM isn't responsible for the poverty in the area. And theft is theft. DM has to protect their plantations/produce. People should not reap where they did not sow. In Kenya, give an inch & take a foot is common.

afromusing said...

very good post man.

There are South African oranges in my local supermarket too! (Schaumburg IL)

I absolutely love Kenyan products, particularly the food. You will not find butter that tastes like KCC's, no sausages like Farmers choice, no Jam like Zesta, no tea like Kenyan tea and oh my goodness the cadbury's fruit & nut (specifically the one made in Kenya) anywhere else in the world. Seriously, I carry so much food back with me whenever I am home, it boggles my mind why Kenyans are importing so much. Having choice is good, but I wish more people would know just how good our stuff is. At the end of the day, like you said, we need to buy Kenyan, and support our agricultural industry. More-so smaller farmers.

Oh another thing, the food in Kenya tastes so good because it is not over processed, and I hope to god we can use less pesticides & hormones in Cows. Organic food here comes at a premium, and in Kenya, particularly in shags, its just a matter of going to the backyard.

coldtusker said...

@afromusing: S Africa has done a TREMENDOUS job in exporting to the USA & Europe.

SA has a temperate climate that is 'opposite' the Northern Hemisphere & that helps BUT they beat any other African country hands down!

Better infrastructure esp roads is an easy boost to small farmers. Why?

It reduces waste & prices thus increasing demand.

P.S. Kenya imports Egyptian & S.African oranges as well. Even the mama mboga sells Egyptian oranges.

BTW, I admit they are 'better' than the local Kitui/Taita oranges.

On the other hand, we have great mangoes. So I eat more mangoes.

Louis said...

i would rather sell kenya, to build kenya :)because no country is an island

ke said...

This issue of how "organic" food is in kenya needs to be discussed at bit further.

Why do people think that the farmers in kenya don't use chemicals? I used to see them spray potatoes with toxins all the time!

And with the growing number of cancer cases, i'm really beginning to believe that there might be a lot more toxins in the food than you think.

Afterall, who is really checking it.

I don't touch those sausages. Have you read the ingredients that are listed on the back of the package?

Anonymous said...

heard the drug in chocolate therory? this is why all gov ministers are taking a line of coke, it started with the choc buttons

coldtusker said...

Louis: Kenyans need to sell Kenya to Kenyans.

ke: sausages have always been the lowest of the low. Same story in Germany or US or S.America.

porky gourmand said...

I always buy kenyan as first resort. My kenyan beer is sierra. I love my belgian & czech beers, which are hard to find here.

PGK said...

Hire Kenyan too....we need a new president .... job description available..apply here

Rafiki said...

@ porky gourmand: I agree with you on the beers. I know some Belgian ones are available in a bar in Westlands, but where the hell did you find the Czech ones?

coldtusker said...

The Czechs claim 'pilsner' as their own. So could EABL's Pilsner be your Czech substitute?

Empower Kenya said...

I am all for "buy Kenyan" however it has to compete in quality with other brands. I will not buy Kenyan just because.
I will also play the devils advocate here and say that many of these products that you have mentioned here are produced by Wahindis in Kenya. I am not against all Wahindis/wazungus but my experience with them and they isolationist behaviour leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
from mabatis, biscuits, bidco, delmonte, williamson tea, cement, milk (delamere-mzungu), etc

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and you do not have to agree

Are we really buying Kenyan or are we buying "made in Kenya"

porky gourmand said...

@cold tusker, the czechs did invent pilsner. My favourite pilsner is Urquell, they claim to be the first pilsner. KBL's pilsner is flat & lacks the hoppy kick.

I got stung the other day by KCC, i bought some cheddar cheese only to taste it. It was not mature. oh well...

@Rafiki, i've not had much foreign beer here. When I lived overseas, my local store had beers from every continent. I sampled the globe that way

@empower kenya, you can't fight xenophobia by being xenophobic.

coldtusker said...

Empower: That is plain silly or stupid. Take your pick. Most of the firms are Kenyan owned. Even if foreign owned e.g. EABL (60% owned by Guinness) it beats Heineken.

What next? All _____ (pick your tribe) to boycott:
- Luo firms (BTW, Luos are also found in Uganda)
- Kikuyu firms (RAO/ODM tried that with Equity)
- Masaai firms (Masaais are also in TZ)

And so on...

Of course, you can play the jesse 'extortionist' jackson card.

Porky: I like Tusker Malt so can't really say.

coldtusker said...

I can't leave the Empower comment alone so out of curiosity I went thru my list again:

Please let me know if I have erred. Considering what happened in 2008, I am ambivalent of this comment/response.

(I know I will regret it the moment I post this)

- Kabazi Canners (no idea who owns it but I have known of Kenylon forever). To me as Kenyan as it gets. It is older than I am!

- KCC is GoK owned but mostly supplied by Central & RV farmers. The Chairman & CEO are kikuyus.

- Brookside is kikuyu owned. kenyatta family.
Built on land (& funds) grabbed from KENYANS

- Daima might be Mhindi owned. I will venture KENYAN.

- Tropical Heat & Deep seems Mhindi owned. Most spices & snacks they sell are of Indian origin. And I like their stuff.
I will venture KENYAN but no idea.

- Krackles. No idea. Watching my weight ;-)

- Cadburys is a multinational (MNC). Should I boycott their chocs coz of ethnicity/xenophobia? Hell no! I love chocs with nuts. And Ol' Jamaica. How I love thee, shall I name the ways?

- Out of Africa. No idea of ownership. Those macadamias are heavenly. See above.
What a great idea to add value to raw macadamia nuts grown by Kenyan farmers.
In my book. KENYAN.

- Weetabix is an MNC thru S.Africa. The best cereal in Kenya. Spoons down.

- Proctor & Allan. No idea but belonged to Unga (kikuyu owned/controlled by the ndegwa family) until a few years ago.

- House of Manji & Brittania. Mhindi firms. HOM has been around for decades. Read 'Biscuit Baron'. I was not even a glint in my parents eyes when old man Manji started plying his trade.

- Del Monte is an MNC but Kenyan grown pineapples. And if you think you can do better than them then do so.

- Quencher is a brand of Excel Chemicals owned by Suresh Shah (ex-Uchumi) & family. The favourite brand during my High School days.

BTW, who remembers Suresh Shah when he was the (only good) CEO at Uchumi Supermarkets?
Shareholders got dividends a-plenty during his days. After kirubi & cronies took over, Uchumi went from hero to zero in 4 years! For those who care... kirubi is a kikuyu.

- Fresh Fruit Juices. Pure Kenyan if mangoes, passion fruits, Tree tomatoes, etc. Of any creed & colour.

- EABL is Kenyan according to my tastebuds. It was only after Kenyans (IMHO stupidly) boycotted the Rights Offer that Diageo took control. But the beers are pure Kenyan. Tusker is the quintessential Kenyan beer. "My country is Kenya, my beer is Tusker". Pole, but I am not switching to keroche's Summit any time soon.

- Keroche is kikuyu owned. Lock, Stock & Barrel.
KENYAN (though I am KBL -Tusker- damu)

- London Distillers. No idea but I avoid imbibing their products!

Empower Kenya said...

forgive me but I am not for the patriotic "buy Kenyan" unless the product is superior in quality and price.
I am on the look out for my pocket and my consumption not Kenya.
If Brazil wants to subsidize its sugar producers to the point that Brazilian sugar can be harvested, processed, shipped accross the ocean and sold next to Mumias sugar for less then I have absolutely no remorse in ditching mumias for the Brazilian sugar.
The subsidies are a gift from Brazil to me...Brazilian taxpayers are the ones paying for subsidies not me.
So if Mumias (and am just using Mumias for the sake of argument) can not harvest efficiently, lower the cost of production and transportation and package their sugar in an attractive manner then they should not expect me to be a loyal customer just because.

Empower Kenya said...

No doubt, these subsidies will adversely affect owners and workers in Kenyan industries producing the same products. However that is one of the ordinally risks of doing business. I hate hearing Steve Smith complaining all the time about Chinese batteries---why cant eveready beat the Chinese at their own game? And just because Chinese batteries are cheap doent mean that every Kenyan will automatically go for the cheaper brand (I personally like Energizer and Duracell period!) Are you looking out for Kenyan enterprises or are you looking out for what is good for you?
Enterprises never complain about unusual or accidental events that confer windfall gains. The free enterprise system is a profit and loss system. (Kenyan companies need to compete on quality and price not blind loyalty)

coldtusker said...

Empower: Please note my gripe has NOTHING to do with value. Why pay more for less? Even if Kenyan.

The issue I had was your definition of Kenyan. That's like saying Barack Obama is not an American (erm, yes... Kenyans - esp Luos- claim him as one of their own but...)

After 45 years you have to accept that Bamburi (or EAPC or ARM) is as Kenyan as it gets.

BTW, Mumias until a few years ago was owned in large part by Booker & Tate yet I never looked at it as being a British firm.

I equate Made in Kenya = Kenyan

Empower Kenya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Empower Kenya said...

I think I used to enjoy Kenyan goods more when I was abroad.
Now that I am back home loyalty is out the door and value and pricing is the determining factor for now.

I do appreciate your position though

Maishinski said...

@Empower kenyan & Ke

You base your perceptions of poor quality on.. what?

1. If mere allegations. And if you are African. SHAME ON YOU.

2. If you have evidence (e.g. conducted a scientific survey and/or controlled lab analysis); and you are African. And you havent reported to KBS. then SHAME ON YOU.

3. If you are foreigners (as I truly believe). Whether mentally or physically. then f*ck you. We love our country and we shall rise above your propaganda and brainwashing.

Empower Kenya said...

am a kenyan and I am proud to be Kenyan and love Kenya, but I still stand by my argument.
I welcome you vulgar comments and insults. Thank you for you contribution. F*ckin me or shaming me says much for your ability to argue a particular topic.
why dont convince me why I should buy Kenyan all the time instead of silly and immature insults?

Anonymous said...

@empowe kenyan,

I think he used "if" to qualify... where do you fit in? Why are you offended if you dont meet the criteria he specified?

We talk about national pride and then trash our country and its products.

What kind of twisted dysfunctional national pride is that?

coldtusker said...

People... please, no insults.

My position is clear... I want value. If I find a Kenyan product that provides me with the best value... I will buy it.

If I get equal value between 2 products I will choose the Kenyan brand/product.

Value in economics is not always price. It could be taste or preferences.

Brands are there to convince people they (brand X) are the best value.

coldtusker said...

One brand I do not ascribe value to:

The Kenyan Politician

Anonymous said...


Hear! Hear!

kay em said...

True that. BUY KENYAN BUILD KENYA. Kenyans have got the biggest appetite for imported products.For those who love wine, there's locally produced YATTA WINES,GRAPE JUICES E.T.C BY KENYA WINE AND THEY'RE NOT BAD AT ALL. LET'S PROMOTE OUR LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS.PERSONALLY, I BUY KENYAN ALL THE TIME!

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Anonymous said...

Hey Cold Tusker. I'm a bit late to the party. I was actually looking for the name of the CEO of Excel Chemicals and stumbled on this post.
Imports for the longest time have been cheaper.
Manufacturing in Kenya is expensive business and the margins/mark ups meant high prices. Well, that has since changed.
Oh and London Distillers is actually purely an Indian Firm. Probably was British owned in the 20th Century

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