KENYA – Kenya’s pioneer Nokia distributor MiDCOM has ventured into the local dairy market in a growth and diversification strategy.

MiDCOM has started importing milk powder, ghee and butter under the brand Lato Milk from its Uganda factory to the Kenyan market, seeking to profit from increased demand for the dairy products.

The Dubai-based company said Kenya’s large Asian community offers a ready market for ghee and that a growing middle class and changing lifestyles was fuelling consumption of milk powder and butter.

“Kenya is a large market for milk. There is also a large Asian community that requires lots of ghee,” Mr Anand Kapoor, vice chairman of Midland Group told the Business Daily.

Midland is a conglomerate with interests spanning agribusiness, telecoms, forex, real estate, transport and education. MiDCOM is Nokia’s authorised distributor in 17 countries across eastern, central and west Africa and says it sells an average of two million handsets per month.

The group owns Pearl Dairy Farms, a milk factory in Mbarara, Uganda, and processes more than 200,000 litres of milk daily into pasteurised milk, milk powder and butter oil and ghee.

The entry of Lato Milk dairy products into the Kenyan scene puts it in direct competition with established players such as New KCC, Brookside, Githunguri Dairy Farmers Co-operative, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock and Kinangop Dairy.

Mr Kapoor said the products would be competitively priced given that dairy imports from Uganda do not attract duty as Kampala is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa trading bloc. State-owned New KCC is the only dairy processor with a milk powder plant in Kenya.

Brookside, controlled by the Kenyatta family, is currently putting up a Sh1.17 billion milk powder plant to boost the company’s milk processing and storage capacity. Kenya’s milk powder market is dominated by imports such as Miksi, Nido and Kenya Highland.

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote plans to build a dry milk plant in Kenya to feed export markets, especially Nigeria that relies on foreign countries to meet its dairy needs.

November 4, 2014;