KENYA – Billionaire businessman Naushad Merali has announced plans to build a Sh2.8 billion milk factory in Nakuru, stepping up competition in the dairy sector that has recently attracted deep-pocketed investors.
Mr Merali, through the agriculture unit of his investment group Sameer, is already a big player in the processed milk industry through his Daima brand of fresh milk and yoghurts.
The Sameer Agriculture & Livestock Ltd (SALL) unit already exports milk products to East African countries, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during launch of the Creambell brand of regular ice-cream, frozen yoghurts and cones, Mr Merali, also chairman of the Sameer Group, said he chose Nakuru due to its close proximity to central Kenya, a major milk producing region.
Kenya’s dairy industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, in tandem with the rising demand for processed milk driven by a growing middle class.
The high growth prospects have attracted wealthy investors into the sector dominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta family’s Brookside Dairy and the State-owned New KCC.
Deepak Kamani, chairman of conglomerate Zuri Group and the man at the centre of long-running Anglo-Leasing financial scam, in February announced plans to build a fresh and powdered milk plant in Nyahururu.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, has also announced plans to set up a factory in Kenya to produce dry milk for local and export markets.
French food group Danone last year acquired a 40 per cent stake in Brookside and announced plans to help the company expand its product portfolio and reach in East Africa.
“The Daima brand is doing well in the market having cut a niche for innovativeness on the extended shelf life milk technology,” said company chief executive Anjan Patole.
SALL’s current daily milk processing capacity stands at 180,000 litres. Mr Merali on Wednesday also launched a Sh1.9 billion Ice-Cream production unit on Nairobi’s Lunga Lunga Road. It has a monthly production capacity of 500,000 litres.
Sameer Agriculture and Livestock, Kenya: Company Feature