French food group Danone has given Brookside Dairy Limited access to its innovation team and its milk products for local production months after buying a 40 per cent stake in the Kenyan dairy company.
Danone, which owns yoghurt brands such as Activia and Actimel, says Brookside can tap into its product range and manufacture the dairy products locally.
“We have opened our brands for local manufacture and sale. So, it’s up to the Brookside board to decide whether they need the products,” said Emmanuel Faber, the CEO of Danone while visiting Brookside this week.
“We are very keen to drive and grow the fermented milk products (like yogurt) in Kenya and use Brookside as a platform into the region.”
He added Danone would be keen to introduce new varieties to already existing Brookside brands in the quest to have “food styles that address local needs and create a unique consumer experience.”
Yoghurt is fast emerging as a healthy option at a time when food choices are becoming a key consideration among Kenya’s urban population.
Brookside Dairy is the leading player in yoghurt and sour milk products in Kenya through its Brookside and Ilara brands, according 2014 report by Euromonitor.
Mr Faber said Danone will help Brookside to expand the group’s product range and grow into other markets, especially eastern Africa.
“Our innovation team will work closely with Brookside and ensure products that integrate local dietary needs and eating habits. We believe in thinking local but acting global,” added the Danone CEO.
Danone’s purchase of a stake in Brookside Dairy mid last year is in line with its strategy of expanding its footprint in Africa.
The group has invested more than one billion euros (Sh116 billion) on the continent over the past three years. In 2013, the Danone —which also deals in baby foods and bottled water —bought a 49 per cent stake in Fan Milk International, West Africa’s largest maker of frozen dairy goods. It also acquired a controlling stake in Moroccan group Central Laitière.
Founded in 1993 in Kenya, Brookside, which also exports to Uganda and Tanzania, has a portfolio spanning from fresh to powdered milk, yoghurt and butter.
The firm has itself been on an expansion drive in recent years, taking over market rivals such as SpinKnit Dairy, Buzeki Dairy, Ilara and Delamere.
Dubai equity firm Abraaj Group, which is Danone’s partner in the Fan Milk venture, holds 10 per cent stake in Brookside.
The Kenyatta family owns half of the dairy firm. Brookside’s procurement director John Gethi said the partnership is a boost for Brookside and Kenya given Danone’s experience.