Unga Group, a prominent food-processing company listed on the market, has unveiled its strategic plans to diversify its product portfolio by entering the sugar market. This decision comes as a pivotal step in its ambitious growth strategy, which aims to broaden its offerings beyond its primary products of maize, wheat, and porridge flour.

The forthcoming addition of sugar to the company’s repertoire underscores its commitment to adapting to evolving consumer demands and market dynamics. The sugar will be marketed under the well-established ‘Amana’ brand, which was first introduced in 2014. Currently, the Amana brand features an array of pulses, including renowned varieties like yellow, black, rosecoco, and nyayo brands of beans. Additionally, the brand offers other products such as green grams, basmati rice, and pishori rice.

As part of its extended vision, Unga Group is set to incorporate long grain rice into its portfolio, and in the near future, pasta will also join its lineup. These progressive introductions are expected to resonate with consumers seeking diverse and nutritious options in their culinary choices.

The strategic move to tap into the sugar market is particularly significant against the backdrop of concerns raised about the state’s influence within the cereal industry. Notably, the maize flour sector has been at the forefront of discussions, with soaring prices for the staple commodity reaching unprecedented heights, such as Sh200 per 2kg.

Isabella Ochola, the Chairperson of Unga Group, highlighted the challenges that the company has grappled with in its efforts to stabilize the cost of maize flour. The limited availability of maize stocks for both animal and human feeds, coupled with erratic rainfall patterns and rising input costs for production, have hindered progress in restoring price equilibrium. Ochola acknowledged the government’s initiatives, including grain imports and fertilizer subsidies, to boost maize stocks and production.

Despite these efforts, the classification of imported white and yellow maize without explicit guidelines has contributed to the complexities of the market. The dual utilization of maize for human consumption and animal feeds has strained supplies, leading to scarcity and escalating prices. Ochola emphasized the preference of Kenyans for white maize flour in their staple dish, ugali. She urged the government to consider a clear distinction, designating imported white maize exclusively for human consumption and yellow maize for animal feeds.

The endorsement of this classification by State Department for Crop Development PS Phillip Harsama underscores the potential benefits it could yield. By segregating maize varieties for distinct purposes, pressures on raw material supplies for both human and animal feeds could be alleviated. Harsama also highlighted the government’s encouragement for farmers to diversify by cultivating alternative animal feed and edible oil crops, thus addressing the existing local production deficit.

Joseph Choge, the Managing Director of Unga Group, elucidated the strategic intent behind the company’s product expansion. Choge emphasized the value of creating offerings that foster shared moments and experiences. As a fully integrated foods business involved in manufacturing, processing, and trade, Unga Group aims to cater to evolving market trends and dietary preferences.

The move to enter the sugar market and expand its product range reflects Unga Group’s commitment to innovation and adaptability. By addressing the evolving needs of consumers and capitalizing on changing market dynamics, the company remains poised to redefine its role in Kenya’s culinary landscape. This strategic evolution aligns with emerging market trends driven by heightened health consciousness and the growing demand for nutritious staple foods.

In light of these developments, Unga Group’s expansion efforts signal its readiness to embrace change and continue to serve as a significant player in Kenya’s food industry.