US ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman (right) during a visit to Kenstate coconut processing firm in Mombasa.

US Govt to invest $1.6M in Kenya’s Coconut Industry

By Zablon Oyugi

The US government has announced $1.6million combined investment project with Kenstate, a Kenyan coconut processor that will see the firm expend its exports to the United States further creating market opportunities for over 4,500 Kenyan coconut farmers.

According to Meg Whitman, US ambassador to Kenya, the project will generate 90 full-time jobs and enroll 1,500 new growers as suppliers, even as it aims to eliminate 32,500 litres of food loss and wastage over the next two years.

“Through partnerships like this, we are enhancing trade, transforming lives, and combating food waste and its impacts on climate change. Sustainable growth and international collaboration are key to the prosperity of both our countries,” said Whitman.

The Feed the Future and Prosper Africa funding supported by the United States Agency for International Development is set to increase Kentaste’s processing capacity by 67 per cent to 50,000 coconuts per day.

The aid is expected to increase the supply of coconuts, at a time when Kenya is experiencing a stable demand from local processors and the export market.

Access to the US market

The collaboration also secures ties with two major US retailers, who will carry Kentaste’s coconut water products, further expanding access to the US market for Kenyan coconut products.

The US is the major buyer of Kenyan nuts, followed by Germany and the Netherlands.

A 2022 report by the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate shows that 110,013 tons of coconuts valued at Ksh5 million ($34,423) were produced in 2020, a slight decrease from 86,554 tonnes valued at Ksh5.5 million ($37,865) in 2021.

Coconut-based products

Founded in 2008, Kentaste produces and distributes a wide range of coconut-based products including coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, virgin coconut oil, and desiccated coconut.

The firm works with a network of 2,700 smallholder farmers, mostly organic and fair trade certified.

According to Research and Markets, the global coconut products market size is expected to reach $38.58 billion by 2030, majorly driven by increased demand for coconut products such as coconut milk, coconut water, and desiccated coconut in the food and beverage industry.

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