Premium US ice cream maker Häagen-Dazs has opened shop in Nairobi with its eye on the growing middle class, in a deal between the New York-listed General Mills and a Kenyan company.
The Kenyan distributor, Kalon Kapital Limited, has been picked to sell Häagen-Dazs ice creams targeting supermarkets, top hotels, cinemas and petrol stations.
Global food brands are increasingly entering the Kenyan market to take advantage of the growing middle class.
“With the growing economy, we have more people in Kenya who have travelled and tasted fine products and they now want to see the same products in our market,” says Arjun Patel, managing partner at Kalon Kapital — suppliers of premium frozen food, especially partially baked products in France.
“The ice cream market here is vibrant and growing fast — we want to be part of that growth.”
Häagen-Dazs has joined the growing list of global food brands that have moved into the Kenyan market, including US food chain Subway.
They seek to cash in on a swelling middle class with growing disposable incomes and a taste for global brands.
Häagen-Dazs, which has more than 950 outlets in 80 countries, will face local competition including from US rival Cold Stone Creamery — which opened shop in Kenya in 2014.
“Häagen-Dazs reputation as a top ice cream brand should make it easier to grow and gain market share,” said Mr Patel.
Häagen-Dazs is the second top-selling Ice cream brand in the world behind Magnum, which is owned by Unilever.
It is considered a higher-end star performer in the US for Nestle — which has recently been selling some of its mass-market ice cream brands.
In Kenya, it has started selling in Nairobi, Nanyuki, Diani and Watamu, which are popular tourists’ resort towns, and plans to move to other urban centres next year.
The firm’s dairy-based ice cream comprises 45 flavours including Belgian Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Macadamia Nut Brittle — which are shipped ready-made from France through the Mombasa port to a cold room in Industrial Area, Nairobi.
“Depending on market feedback, we might open Häagen-Dazs ice cream shops similar to those in Europe,” said Mr Patel.
In Africa, the standalone Häagen-Dazs outlets are found in South Africa.