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Mahinda picked MD for New York listed cereals firm

Gerald Mahinda has been appointed the new sub-Saharan Africa head for US foods manufacturer Kellogg’s. FILE
Gerald Mahinda has been appointed the new sub-Saharan Africa head for US foods manufacturer Kellogg’s. FILE 

Former managing director of East African Breweries (EABL) Gerald Mahinda has been appointed the new sub-Saharan Africa head for US foods manufacturer Kellogg’s.

Mr Mahinda will drive Kellogg’s agenda of capturing a larger share of the breakfast spend for Africa’s middle-class households.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed firm reported a net profit of $1.8 billion (Sh154.8 billion) last year, from sales of $14.8 billion (Sh1.3 trillion)—ranking as the second biggest cereal maker after rival General Mills.

“As part of our emerging markets strategy, we have identified sub-Saharan Africa as a key area of focus with long-term growth potential for Kellogg’s,” said Amit Banati, Kellogg’s president in charge of Asia Pacific.

Kellogg’s reckons that increased urbanisation and changing lifestyles in Africa has created demand for its breakfast cereals, snacks and cookies which include cornflakes, Mueslix, Pringles potato chips and Eggo waffles.

Consumption of ready-to-eat cereals such as cornflakes, oats, muesli and porridge mix—usually mixed with milk, yogurt and fruit — is on the rise in Kenya offering middle-income households convenient breakfast options.

“The real opportunity is in the growing wealth in Africa, especially the middle class and the changing lifestyles that make our products attractive,” said Mr Banati.

Kellogg’s will be tapping into Mr Mahinda’s more than 10 years of experience in senior leadership positions across Africa to take on rivals such as Weetabix, Nestle, Mondelçz, (formerly Kraft Foods), Proctor & Allan and General Mills for a bigger share of Africa’s cereals and snack market.

Kellogg’s, with an asset base of $15.5 billion (Sh1.33 trillion), markets its food products in 180 countries across the world.

Mr Mahinda, 55, joins Kellogg’s from London-based alcohol manufacturer Diageo where he was managing director for the Africa Spirits Transformation unit that spearheaded sales of spirit brands across the continent.

The Michigan-based food manufacturing company has hived off the new position from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region; highlighting the strategic importance Kellogg’s has placed on sub-Saharan Africa.

The appointment took effect on February 1 and will see Mr Mahinda formulate and execute strategies and direct operations across the entire sub-Saharan Africa including the Indian Ocean Islands, but excluding the North Africa business which will remain under the leadership of Kellogg’s EMEA.

“I see an outstanding opportunity for Kellogg’s to grow in Africa and felt energised by the team when I met them,” Mr Mahinda told Business Daily.

Kellogg’s said Mr Mahinda will drive sub-Saharan Africa business from South Africa.

Mr Mahinda served as CEO and group managing director of EABL for five years between January 2004 and June 2009. His tenure saw EABL’s dividend pay-out almost triple to Sh8.05 per share in the year ended June 2009 from Sh2.89 a share in 2004.

Mr Mahinda also steered the beer maker through the tax man’s increased appetite for sin taxes on beer and spirits — to more than double sales to Sh34.4 billion in 2009 compared to Sh16.5 billion when he joined the listed brewer majority-owned by Diageo.

He left Nairobi to take chief executive position at Brandhouse South Africa, a joint venture owned by Diageo, Heineken and Namibia Breweries to market their premium alcohol beverages and fend off competition from rival SABMiller.

Mr Mahinda served at Brandhouse for four years until June 2013.

“Gerald has extensive experience in Africa and we are very pleased to have him join Kellogg’s. We are looking forward to the sub-Saharan Africa business thriving under his guidance and leadership,” said Mr Banati.

Mr Mahinda holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) degree from the University of Nairobi where he graduated in 1983 and is a certified public accountant.

Kellogg’s bought the Pringles snack brand from Procter & Gamble in 2012 for $2.75 billion in a bid to consolidate its market share. The sale saw P&G exit the food business.

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