US confectionary maker Mars Wrigley yesterday opened its new Sh7 billion plant in Athi River as it seeks to diversify its local product portfolio beyond chewing gums to include products like Skittles.
Mars Wrigley Confectionary General Manager for the Middle East and Africa Duncan McCulloch said the new factory would enable the firm to expand its product range of chocolates and grow new markets in Egypt and Nigeria.
It will employ 200 workers and replaces its first facility located in Nairobi’s Industrial Area since 1972 that also served Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Djibouti, DR Congo and South Sudan markets.
“We have a strong chewing gum portfolio in Kenya but we have less of fruit confectionary like skittles. With this plant we have ambitions to grow it and start packaging them (skittles) locally by end of the year,” said Mr McCulloch.
The firm did not disclose whether its chocolate brands including Twix, Bounty, Dove, Snickers, Mars, Maltesers and M&M would also be packaged locally.
Wrigley’s products from the Nairobi subsidiary include Big G, PK, Double-mint, Orbit and Juicy Fruit brands.
The new facility sits on a 20-acre parcel in Mavoko, Machakos and is part of growing Mars Wrigley Confectionery following the integration with Mars Chocolate and Wrigley in 2008.