Poorer Kenyan people (an increasing proportion) live for today. Their culture is to buy for today. If they buy for tomorrow they may have to sacrifice something today. So, they buy small quantities of the same things every day from the same place. If anything, that tradition has intensified, and the market has gradually adapted to that culture, so large-scale manufacturers now produce some things in small quantities so that the poorer people will buy them.

However, a process known as de-bulking is very common. Retailers will buy in bulk and then de-bulk into the quantities they know people in their locality will buy. If you went to Kisumu market on a Saturday night you would find it crowded with container lorries from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, all preparing to sell to retailers at the Sunday Market. Business is so good that the local authority will make between two and three million Kenyan shillings (about 100 shillings to a £ so £20-30,000) on car park charges every Saturday night. It is the second largest open-air market in Kenya and the largest in Western Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda combined.

However, the process of de-bulking is inefficient. Many commodities are de-bulked, predominantly foodstuffs, but everything is done by hand. It has to be weighed, packaged and sealed in separate processes. Different weights are required for different commodities. A method of weighing, packaging and sealing commodities would improve the system, especially if it was perceived to be classy. Pre-sealing bags would be an excellent addition for the retailer who de-bulks.

Packaging is also a problem. I was told that in Kisumu a 2 kilo bag of pre-packaged flour produced by one of the big national companies will sell in the market place for 38 Kenyan shillings (about 40p). A bag of flour produced locally without the branding and sold in an ordinary bag will cost 10sh (10p). Sometimes it may even be flour from the area that has been sold to the national companies. However, people buy the more expensive bags because they think they are more trustworthy. Packaging counts for a lot. An inexpensive but attractive package would improve the reputation and sales of local products.

In Kisumu town between 2 and 3 million shillings (£20-30,000) are spent every day. 85% of the money goes out of Kisumu either to Nairobi or to overseas companies. It is small wonder that life for Kisumu people becomes increasingly difficult. They get less for the products they produce and have to pay more for those they buy.

Packaging In Kenya

Before you begin

Web references

A typical area in Kenya

The packaging problem

What commodities are re-packaged?

Materials available for packaging

How Fruit Juice Is Made

Design Possibilities
Re-packaging flour, sugar etc.

Packaging fruit juices

Peanut butter container

Other packaging