Samantha Mwedekeli is the co-founder of Kenya-based gourmet burger chain Mama Rocks, which sells burgers, fries and sauces, among other foods. Many of its recipes call for tomato ketchup as an ingredient and it is also served as a side sauce. She says sourcing quality ketchup locally has proved impossible, despite many brands and firms manufacturing the product.
“Most of the ketchup available locally is low quality, just a lot of sugar and food colouring. We have experimented with local brands but our customers always notice when we change from the brand we import. We do not have a local equivalent that is natural with the right balance of spices.”
Kenya’s growing middle class and rapid urbanisation have spurred the growth of restaurants and fast-food businesses.
Local production of ketchup is increasing as evidenced by new brands popping up each year, but a deficit exists that is filled by imports. In 2019, an estimated 2,442 tonnes of tomato ketchup were imported.
Kenya cultivated 542,686 tonnes of tomatoes annually as of 2019. Yet, high volumes of farmers’ produce still go to waste each year due to a glut during the harvesting seasons. Currently, some county governments are embarking on projects to build tomato processing plants to stem this waste.
Mwedekeli believes the manufacturing of high-quality ketchup is an opportunity worth exploring for those who wish to capture the market that looks to imports to meet quality standards.
Mama Rocks Burgers Founders Samantha Mwedekeli and Natalie Mwedekeli’s contact information
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