Ingredion, a global ingredient manufacturer, has expressed its plans to resume full operations in the Kenyan market once it can secure a local supply of raw materials. The company, which heavily relies on corn for its product manufacturing, had previously closed down its Eldoret factory in 2002 due to a scarcity of maize in the country. According to Mike Croghan, Senior Director Strategy & Business Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Ingredion, the company is collaborating with various industry stakeholders to enhance and stabilize market conditions. However, he did not provide a specific timeline for establishing a new factory in Kenya.

The Ingredion group specializes in nature-based sweeteners, starches, and nutritional ingredients. With a presence in over 40 countries, the company serves approximately 60 diverse sectors in the food, beverage, brewing, pharmaceutical, and other industries.

Currently, the company relies on imports from other markets to meet the demands of the local market. It is also focusing on developing products that align with changing consumer needs and the challenging economic landscape, as affordability plays a significant role in consumption patterns in emerging markets like Kenya.

"We closed down the Eldoret factory due to unfavorable market conditions caused by Kenya's maize deficiency. Under our current business model, we collaborate with customers to develop these products and then import them from our factories in other markets. If market conditions permit, we will certainly reassess our business strategy going forward," said Croghan.

Speaking at a customer event in Nairobi to commemorate one year of Ingredion's presence in Kenya, Croghan expressed the company's eagerness to expand its product portfolio not only in East Africa but also in the West African market. He highlighted Kenya's positive macroeconomic indicators, young population, growing middle class, and increasing urbanization as factors that make the country an attractive investment destination. The opportunities lie in providing convenient and quality products that cater to consumers' lifestyle demands within the food and beverage sectors.

"As consumer needs grow and evolve, so will the variety of ingredients we offer. Whether it's new modified starches, sweetener solutions, ingredient blends, or solutions for the health and nutrition market, we will introduce new products into our portfolio by expanding our existing facilities, acquiring new technologies or businesses, or accessing new opportunities," stated Croghan.

The company aims to introduce products that will help manufacturers improve cost efficiency without compromising on eating quality and visual appeal. Croghan emphasized that functional starches can be used to replace everyday ingredients, resulting in cost savings, which is especially relevant in emerging markets like Kenya where cost is a top priority for manufacturers and consumers alike.

Croghan added that Ingredion's global presence and resources are complemented by its local subsidiary based in Nairobi, which monitors and anticipates major trends in the region. The company will continue to provide technical expertise and collaborate closely with customers on recipe development to meet the demand for satisfying textures and tastes. By partnering with Ingredion, manufacturers can develop innovative and consumer-winning products with added value to differentiate themselves.

"In today's challenging economic times, it remains crucial for food and beverages to offer good value for money and meet customers' high expectations for quality products that remain affordable. However, achieving harmonization of taxes across the East African region would significantly benefit the manufacturing sector," Croghan added.

Currently, Ingredion serves customers within the East African Community (EAC), including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. The company also aims to expand its business presence in West Africa, utilizing its Kenyan office as a business hub.