KENYA – Del Monte Kenya, one of the leading fruits processor in Kenya, has invested US$5.8 million (Shs580 million) in setting up a new fresh fruit processing facility.

The new state-of-the-art processing facility will enable the firm expand its product portfolio predominantly from mango and pineapple into other fruits.

The new facility will have an annual processing capacity of 60 tonnes of fresh fruits which will be locally sourced and is expected to create about 200 new jobs.

Del Monte managing director, Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, said that the new facility in Kenol, Central Kenya, is expected to be completed in August this year and will start processing of avocados, mangoes and passion fruits.

“Del Monte Kenya plans to source fruit from local and regional growers in Murang’a and Kiambu counties. We will prepare and package the products from the new Del Monte facility for both local and international markets,” said Mr Gkaliamoutsas.

Currently, the fruit processor has more than 6,500 employees and creates about 28,000 indirect jobs through the production and value addition chain.

The new facility comes at a time when Del Monte Kenya Limited is marking its 70th anniversary.

“Over the past several decades we have turned vacant, unoccupied, unused land into thriving plantations with irrigation and water infrastructure, roads, clinics, and schools that benefit the entire community.

“We’re now looking forward to taking these accomplishments further alongside the Kenyan government and its people,” Gkaliamoutsas emphasized

Del Monte Kenya is also set to supply a range of fruits including of pineapples, mangoes and passion fruits to Coca-Cola in the country for the production of a new range of health-conscious drinks that the global soft drink maker launched recently.

According to a Business Daily report, Coca-Cola had said that fruits for the processing of the several juice brands of Minute Maid Nutridefenses and Powerade, fruits will be provided by Del Monte from contracted farmers within the country.

The new facility also strengthens the company’s expansion and diversification strategy ahead of its competitors including Kevian Kenya, the producer of Afia and Pick N’ Peel juice brands.

Del Monte, which operates about 10,000 acres of pineapple plantations, started local production of fruit juices in the country in 2010 and supplies its product both to the local and export markets especially to the European market.