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Kevian Announces A Billion Shillings Expansion Plan To Meet Increased Beverage Demand, Create Jobs.

The MD Kevian Limited Kimani Rugendo (centre) takes the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Muller through the stages of fruit juice production during a tour of the German delegation to the company on Thursday.
Kevian Kenya Limited has revealed a 1-billion expansion plan in its construction and expansion of manufacturing facilities.

This wide-ranging plan is aimed at raising its production capacity in order to help them meet a surge in demand for food and beverage products both locally and internationally as well as creating more jobs and improving food security in the nation.

This was revealed by its proprietor Richard Kimani Rugendo on Thursday when the firm played host to a German delegation led by their Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Muller.
Kimani said that their products have captured a significant share of the East African regional market, successfully spreading its wings towards Central Africa and the Middle East. It was for this reason they had now launched an ambitious plan to get to the United States and Europe, some of the world’s biggest consumer markets.

“All our products are consumed within the region and at the moment we are penetrating the Middle East market as we pursue avenues to get into the US and European market. We do have our own expansion plans though it is very difficult to tell you the actual cost at the moment but definitely it will be in the region of about 7-10 million US Dollars in terms of equipment alone. As for the infrastructure, we are almost done,” explained Kimani.

The managing director added that their mission was to be the leading producer and marketer of branded fruit juices in the East African region and they were banking on quality as a competitive advantage.

“Our strength lies in our relation to the farmers, our fruit-base and the natural character of our products. We move through the whole value chain, from the farm to the market. We are crushing fruit. The crushing and the packaging use 200 tons of fruit every day. That, in itself, is giving us enough raw materials to last us the entire period for the moment when fruit are not there. Therefore, we can offer uniform prices through the year,” he explained.
Rugendo and Muller enjoy a light moment in front of the raw mango fruits that are about to be processed.

He reckons that his drive for the production of natural fruit juice beverages came alive after they realised a missing link from the farm to the processer that had led to some disappointment among the farmers as the fresh market could only absorb a 10% of their produce.

“We help farmers use the 90% they can’t sell in the fresh market. We also saw an opportunity in soups where we use carrots and other vegetables, something that is not done here. We have been working product by product and our products are actually doing well in the market,” he said.

To ensure a constant supply of fresh produce from farmers, Kevian partnered with GTZ, Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) and the Ministry of Agriculture to offer extension services to farmers so as to raise production.

They are currently supported by the German investment and development Corporation (DEG) in the creation of superior products. DEG is assisting the firm towards the extension of the production capacity in Thika, especially for the manufacturing of fruit concentrates as well as investments in bottling systems and packaging plants.

“Our main source of funding however, including the latest Sh3 billion injection for the factory upgrade has come from international lender DEG, a subsidiary of German government-owned KfW,” he said.

“Through such support, Kevian has managed to strengthen its growth path and contribute to income generation and improvement of livelihood of thousands of small-scale farmers from whom we source majority of our raw materials. These projects have empowered farmers, making them to earn a decent living, boosted their morale, and on our part, ensured that we have quality raw materials supplied without a hitch,” Kimani added.

The company has also established a small farmers’ vocational training centre in Kitengela Kajiado County where they are taken for short courses uniquely designed to suit their needs.

The German minister said that their delegation was very impressed with what they saw, something that he said was a good impetus for Kenyan-German cooperation.
Muller lifts a finished and packaged Afia product that is now ready for the market.

“I am absolutely fascinated with the top quality produce and the state-of-the-art technology that keeps the country almost at par with Europe. The work being done in this company is providing a great future for small-scale farmers who would have otherwise suffered the effects of not having a regular market for their produce,” said Muller.

Kevian Limited started production in 1995 as one of the country’s first manufacturers of bottled water under the brand name Mt Kenyan. They then diversified to producing Pick ‘N’ Peel ready to drink juices, and later on, Afia. The Thika-Based company that prides in the processing of 100% fruit juice content currently including mangoes, carrots, pineapple, tomatoes and passion concentrates on a daily basis.

Kenya’s food and beverage processing industry comprises more than 1,232 businesses, Agro-processing is the largest manufacturing sub-sector, accounting for 13% of the total output. The regional juice market is worth $1.7 billion (Sh136 billion), with energy drinks making another $1 billion (Sh80 billion) and packaged water $992 million (Sh79 billion). In Kenya alone, the national juice market is estimated to be worth Sh7.2 billion. In the fresh drinks market, a huge demographic of people under 35 years make up 80% of the East Africa’s population.

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