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
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