20 February 2002

Kenya: Cirio Buys Del Monte

European food processing giant Cirio Alimentare has acquired 98 per cent ownership in Del Monte Group.

Consequently, Thika-based pineapple canners, Del Monte Kenya, has changed its name to Cirio Del Monte Kenya Limited.

The firm's Chief Executive, Dr Lorenzo Bertolli, said the deal was struck in the first half of last year making Cirio the sixth largest food company in Europe.

The firm specialises in tomato and vegetable processing.

Del Monte formerly known as Kenya Canners Limited has been operating in the country for the last 40 years.

Bertolli said Cirio Del Monte aims to increase the volume of its products sold in local and regional markets which currently stands 2 per cent.

He said the firm further plans to expand its range of products from fruit juices to include branded fruit and vegetable products.

"We are soon starting an aggressive marketing campaign to popularise existing and new products in Kenya," he said.

Bertolli said Cirio Del Monte will encourage farmers to set up own units for the supply of products such as mangoes and passion fruits.

Del Monte employs 6,000 people and produces 1,500 tonnes of pineapple products daily.

The company, which contributes an average of Sh4 billion to the exchequer annually, received ISO 9002 certification last November.

Early last year, the company was in the limelight for allegedly violating workers' rights prompting local human rights groups to call for an international boycott of its products.

Yesterday, Bertolli said the firm has since improved and maintained good social standards.

"Various inspection teams from supermarket chains, human rights groups and the Ministry of Labour have visited us for inspection and our doors are open for others who wish to do so," he said.

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