Proposal paves way for food supplements investors
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 18:07
A visit to most supermarkets shows a new trend in consumers’ changing diets.
Most supermarkets stock a range of breakfast foods unlike previous years when milk and bread were the main items on the shelves.
For many families, the previously milk and bread rich breakfast and other meals is fast changing.
Cereals, “fresh” juices, cheese and others are taking up a significant percentage of breakfast spending particularly for middle class households.
A few traditional and indigenous food products are also jostling for space in the supermarket shelves and on tables of some families. There are processed arrow roots, irio and uji mix on sale.
In the last two years, the breakfast foods sector has lured new entrants with cereals and juice makers aggressively launching products.
All this is informed by statistics indicating that consumers are expected to spend twice as much by next year.
The United Nations Development Programme estimates that Kenya will become a middle-income economy around 2016 with continued growth forecasts.
This paints a rosy future for vendors and manufacturers of nutritional supplements and food products. Perhaps this informs the interest on this previously ignored segment.
The phenomenon is all but for two reasons: convenience and perceived “benefits” of the new products. It has also been helped by increasing recognition of the important role nutrition plays.
Science has advanced the cause by establishing the correlation between diet, health and diseases. Kenyans’ perception on dietetics is improving thanks to access to media and higher literacy.
The cereals category is dominated by multinationals and no local companies have been able to break into the ranks.
The few that attempt are still limited to providing “organic porridge flour” and traditional foodstuffs for a niche market. They cater for people with conditions requiring special diets like diabetes, hypertension amongst others.
Another area local firms should attempt to break into is the production of nutritional supplements given to HIV patients and undernourished children.
Finance minister Njeru Githae’s tax reprieve proposal on food supplements is good but a better idea would be to have them manufactured locally.