The Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) plant in South C, Nairobi where VG Foods Ltd strawberry jam products are produced. Photo courtesy.
VG Foods Ltd, a food and beverage company based in Naivasha with its production site at South C in Nairobi in 2014 started strawberry jam, a move that has seen the young company avoid the wastage of grade 2 fruits which could be going to waste due to their undesirable looks in the market.
The firm which was started in 2011 by two graduates Davis Munene Nyamweya, a food scientist and his friend who is an actuarial scientist after the pulling out of other partners conducted a successful trial of strawberry farming within a quarter acre plot of the 23 acres leased land at Karate. This encouraged the duo.
“We had contributed Sh300,000 which we spent on leasing the land, set up drip irrigation system, buy seedlings and plastic mulch and the rest on labour to try out the fruit and find out whether it is feasible in the area and the result was awesome,” said Davis who is also the managing director of the company.
Over 60 per cent of the first produce were grade 1 fruits which were fit for high end markets while only 30 per cent were smaller in size hence were undesirable and could only be sold in the local open-air markets in the area.
However, in 2014 in a bid to further increase their production by making 25 beds with a capacity of accommodating 12,000 seedlings, there came a drought which affected the plants and at the time of harvesting there were 90 per cent of grade 2 fruits meaning the company was headed to incur huge losses.
“To avoid this we decided to purchase some machines using the money we had realized from our previous seasons and contributions from family members and friends to start off in strawberry jam production,” Said Davis.
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In the following year (2015) they decided to register the company and acquired certificate of production from Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) after being offered a space at Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), South C branch in Nairobi where they could also use some of the institute’s facilities.
Branded VG Foods Ltd jam. Photo courtesy.
Production capacity and market
The company is currently sourcing its fruits from its farm in Naivasha for production in Nairobi as a way of market convenience.
They produce 100 jars of jam from time to time with production depending on market demand which majorly come on orders.
“Our products are 80-90 per cent pure fruit content as we do not add artificial food colours or flavours. Instead we crush sugarcane for juice that we add to the jam to boost the taste,” said Davis.
A jar of 37oml goes at Sh500 while that of 200ml goes at Sh250.
The firm’s markets include farmers’ market in Karen, Sarit Centre, New Muthaiga, groceries, and home deliveries via online orders.
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The company is now eying supermarket supply tenders for more markets though the production is still low due to lack of better and its own facilities.
“We are calling on interested investors who can help us acquire better automated machines that will enable us up our production. We are currently working with different nutritionists to fine tune our products with a view to not only attain food security but also attain healthy breakfasts and snacking,” said Davis.
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Davis can be reached on +254 780 712736