ZAMBIA – The popularity of Zambian potato chips is on the rise in East Africa, with Uganda becoming the latest country to place orders for this convenience snack.

The Zambia Potato Company, which has been making significant strides in the international market, has not only met the growing regional demand but has also reversed the importation of chilled potato chips from South Africa, effectively saving the country’s foreign currency and boosting the national treasury.

Zambia Potato Company’s Country Sales and Business Development Manager, Mathews Kaubo, expressed his satisfaction with the company’s remarkable progress on the international stage.

The company, which initially exported 27 metric tonnes of potato chips to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is now gradually securing a substantial market share in both the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) markets.

Mr Kaubo reported that following successful exports to Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda has now joined the list of nations ordering Zambian potato chips.

In the SADC region, apart from the DRC, the company has been exporting to countries like Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa, with South Africa being their largest market.

“From the pilot export of 27 tonnes to the DRC in January 2022, the company now exports to eight countries in the EAC and SADC markets,” Mr Kaubo said.

He commended the Zambian Government, particularly quasi-institutions such as the Zambia Development Agency, Zambia Revenue Authority, and the Zambia Bureau of Standards, for their invaluable guidance and support in enabling the company to enter the export market.

“The company’s success story continues to unfold as it has exported approximately 1,850 metric tonnes, a remarkable increase from the 750 tonnes exported in 2022, and it aims to surpass these figures by year-end.”

To strike a balance between catering to local and export markets, the company supplies chain stores nationwide while also servicing local entrepreneurs through the Buya Bamba outlet on the outskirts of Lusaka City Market. Buya Bamba serves as both an outgrower agent and distributor of raw potatoes.

“Our focus was mainly to satisfy the local demand. But the processing equipment was projected to be producing more than the country’s needs.” With local demand estimated to be around 700 tonnes monthly, the company found an opportunity to offload the surplus on the foreign market,” Mr Kaubo explained.

The Zambia Potato Company has been exporting 50 tonnes of potato chips to Botswana, Malawi, and Namibia.

As Mr Kaubo highlighted, South Africa remains the company’s largest market, with Kenya and the DRC following closely as the second biggest markets in terms of demand.

Founded in 2018 and commencing production in 2019, the company has made a significant impact on job creation, employing 150 full-time staff members, primarily women, at its Ngwerere factory in Chongwe District.

Through its outgrower schemes in Northern and Southern provinces, the company has created hundreds of jobs, with farmers employing approximately eight people per hectare across more than 2,000 hectares.

Mr Kaubo emphasized the company’s commitment to supporting local farmers and growing the export market, which not only benefits the national economy but also sustains employment opportunities for many in the country.