KENYA – A number of multinational packaging companies, quite a number from the United States, are in the country seeking opportunities in the food processing business.

The firms have been in the country for one week to meet potential food and fresh producers. Discussions focused on how to boost the local firms’ output and profitability by eliminating unnecessary wastage in the production process.

It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of food and vegetables go to waste in the production process mostly in Africa due to lack of proper packaging, transportation and storage.

“We can eliminate hunger in the world if we package every food we produce,” said Michael Okoroafor, the vice president for Global Packaging Innovation and Execution for Heinz during a dinner organised by the US Embassy in Nairobi.

The dinner was organised for members of a trade association made up of more than 650 member companies that manufacture packaging materials, deal in packaging-related converting machinery, commercial packaging machinery components, containers and materials in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The association’s chairman Bill Crest said the members are in the country to look for packaging opportunities in tea and snacks manufacturing sectors.

“We can package Kenyan tea to add value for export,” said Crest. “Packaging ensures the shelf life of products is maintained.”

Crest said the American businesses have been attracted to the country and Africa in general, with the region being touted as the next frontier for growth.

In total, nine US firms engaged in the packaging industry are in the country, in addition to more than 120 exhibitors from across the globe expected at the currently ongoing international trade expo at the KICC.

The US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said there are many trade opportunities for American companies in Kenya due the country’s strategic location.

“What is happening is only the beginning,” said Godec of the growing interest in Kenya.

Global prices of packaging material have been on an upward trend in the recent years as the cost of global raw materials and demand rises, posing a major threat to agriculture and manufacturing industries.

At plants making fast-moving consumer goods, the cost of materials equals up to 10 per cent of the selling price.

September 11, 2014;