Corporate News

Rugendo targets hotels with new packed soups

Kevian vegetable soup and tomato sauce. Photo/SALATON NJAU
Kevian vegetable soup and tomato sauce. Photo/SALATON NJAU 

Kevian Kenya Limited, the maker of Afia and Pick N Peel fruit juices, has ventured into production of tomato sauce and packed vegetable soups targeting middle class shoppers and high-end hotels.

The new products have already hit supermarket shelves, making Kevian Kenya one of the most diversified local food processors.

The company’s founder, Kimani Rugendo, said the new products are in line with the company’s growth strategy which is anchored on diversifying its portfolio.

“We saw a big gap in the hospitality industry. We are seeking more growth in the region and this can only be achieved through expansion,” said Mr Rugendo in an interview.

Tru Foods and Tiger Brands are the best known producers of tomato sauce in Kenya, while most packed soups are imported. The soups are sold ready to drink, and can be taken either warm or cold in three variants that include chilli, vegetable and curry.

They are packed in one-litre and 250-millilitre packs. An estimated 4,000 farmer groups across the country have signed up to supply tomatoes and carrots to the manufacturer.

“The products are processed at our Thika plant where we are producing 200 tonnes of each product per day,” said Mr Rugendo. He, however, declined to disclose the amount of capital spent on the tomato sauce and vegetable soup production lines or the source of funding.

The businessman recently disclosed to the Business Daily that his main source of capital – including a recent Sh3 billion injection for installing production lines for a new line of non-alcoholic malt drinks – has come from international lender DEG, a subsidiary of German government-owned KfW.

Made good strides

Equity Bank, IDB Capital Limited and National Bank are some of the local lenders which have advanced loans to the businessman in the past.

The venture has employed 300 new staff. Kevian Kenya is seeking to replicate a model that it started in 1992 when it introduced its first bottled drinking water – the Mt Kenya brand – to test the market before it ventured into juice making in 1999.

The company mainly targeted Mombasa tourist hotels as its main market with limited supply of the bottled water to a few restaurants and supermarkets in Nairobi.

sciuri@ke.nationmedia.com