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Bidco Starts Construction Of A 4b Soda, Juice Plant In Thika.

Bidco Africa has started constructing a Sh4 billion beverage plant on a piece of land off the Thika-Garissa highway in Thika Town to produce and bottle non-carbonated still drinks, carbonated soft drinks and water.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) funded factory, whose planned commissioning is mid next year, is part of a Sh20 billion expansion blueprint that will see Bidco go into other manufacturing streams as it seeks to grow its business four-fold from the present Sh50.5 billion annual turnover.

“The groundbreaking for the beverage factory happened in February but actual construction started early this month,” said Bidco chief executive Vimal Shah in an interview.

“We had hoped to that the plant would be operational by the end of this year but some regulatory hurdles have forced us to move that target to around June of next year.”

Bidco’s beverages factory will have two processing lines — each with a capacity to produce 24,000 bottles per hour.

A separate plant will produce about 100 million plastic bottles per year.

The estimated annual production capacity of the soft drinks plant is 50 million litres to be split among the different product lines such as energy, sports drinks, and smoothies (with and without milk).

Other products will include carbonated soft drinks and non-carbonated still drinks such as iced tea, coffees and bottled water.

Bidco currently manufactures edible oils, cooking fats, soaps, baking powder, animal feeds and detergents.

The firm, which was founded in 1970 as a garments factory, controls more than 60% of the cooking fat and 54% of the cooking oil market in Kenya.

Mr Shah is now ready to do battle with seasoned beverage manufacturers such as Coca Cola, East African Breweries Limited, Pepsi, and Del Monte who have over the years cemented their positions locally.

The company’s entry into the soft drinks market will also turn the firm into a competitor of local ready-to-drink juice makers like Kevian Kenya (of Peek n’ Peel and Afia brands) and water bottlers such as Crown Beverages (Keringet).

Bidco is seeking to expand its business dramatically by launching new brands in the fast-moving consumer goods space.

(Source: Business Daily)

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