Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) was established on 1 June 1950 through an Act of Parliament, Cap 363 of the laws of Kenya. Its mandate was to purchase cattle and small stock, and to acquire, establish and operate abattoirs, meat works, cold storage concerns and refrigerating works for the purpose of slaughtering cattle and small stocks, processing by-products preparing hides and chilling, freezing, canning and storing beef, mutton, poultry and other meat foods for export or for consumption within Kenya; in addition the Act provided KMC with some regulatory responsibilities including being conferred with certain exclusive rights upon the and connected purposes.
The Meat Control Act Cap 356 of 1975 liberalized the meat industry thereby ending the monopoly enjoyed by KMC under the KMC Act. Whereas the move was welcome, there was no sufficient legal support to enable KMC operate under the new environment which gave room for stiff competition. The challenges were compounded by further loss of European Economic Community export markets for fresh meat in 1973 due to disease situation in the country and lack of follow up for inspection. Subsequently, the KMC was closed in 1987.
The factory was re-opened in 1989 only to close again in 1992 following its inability to sustain operations due losses occasioned by KMC’s buyer of last resort status and obsolescence of the factory’s machinery and equipment. Following the 1992 closure, the Government of Kenya with the financial and technical support of Mitsubishi Corporation (UK) Limited set out to rehabilitate the Athi-River factory, a task that was completed in 1995 after a successful test run. However, the factory remained closed until 2006.
The realization of the role that meat industry can play in the attainment of economic objective in the Vision 2030 blue print compelled the government to reopen KMC. In the financial year 2003/2004 the Government provided Ksh 247million to then Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries development to pay off unsecured creditors to pave way for the re-opening of KMC. Consequently, a sum of Ksh107m was paid to unsecured creditors through the Ministry. In 2004, the Ministry of Finance gave a further Ksh 500m in form of additional equity for the immediate repairs of the plant and as an initial facility for financing operations. It therefore began rehabilitating the factory and its branches at Kibarani in Mombasa and Landhies road in Nairobi. After 15 years of closure, the factory was eventually reopened on June 26, 2006.
Available records indicate that KMC has failed to take off as expected since its resumption in June 2006. It has continued to depend on government grants and loans despite GoK’s initial investment of Ksh 1.9 billion. Since then, KMC’s performance has been below expectations (making losses amounting to Ksh. 313 million in 2007 and Ksh. 244m in 2008) and it has been operating at less than half of its optimum capacity. The worst part of its declining performance has been experienced in the last two years. In addition to making losses, the Commission has been unable to pay its suppliers and honor all its statutory obligations.
The KMC Act and Policy Papers envisaged a Commission with the biggest and most modern licensed export abattoir in East, Central and the Horn of Africa capable of supplying top quality meat products to local and international markets. At the height of its operations, KMC supplied meat products to the following export markets:
- Middle East (U.A.E, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia)
- East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda)
- Central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo)
- North Africa (Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt)
- Southern Africa (Angola)
KMC has all it takes to domestically meet market demands by servicing its customers with high quality meat and meat product at competitive prices using efficient and effective environmentally friendly systems ensuring satisfaction, promptness and loyalty.
Previously, KMC supplied its products to major towns in Nairobi, Mombasa, Naivasha, Limuru, Gilgil, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Garissa, Nanyuki, Isiolo, Lamu, Meru among others. The Commission also introduced office deliveries in order to serve our customers at their place of work. This was done via Van Sales which were strategically located next to work places within Kitengela, Nairobi and Mombasa. These areas included Jogoo House, Ardhi House, Harambee House, Kilimo House, Makadara DC Compound and Kitengela EPZ. Other office deliveries included KNH, JKIA, Railway Station and GPO.
The following were the main customers:
- Government institutions i.e. KWS, Armed Forces, Hospitals, the Hotel industry, Universities, Schools and Colleges etc.
- Private Institutions i.e. Universities, Hospitals, Schools, Colleges, Hotels and Butcheries
- Supermarkets i.e. pre-packed products available in Uchumi and Tuskys; High class butcheries at selected Uchumi outlets.
- KMC franchised butcheries in various locations around Nairobi area and Mombasa.
- Walk-in-customers at all the depots
KMC market has dwindled overtime. Currently, there is no export market to talk of. The export market is served by KMC’s custom clients, while the local market outlets have been reduced to irregular supplies via Uchumi supermarkets with wanting accounting systems to the disadvantage of the Commission and the Mini Shop at the Commission’s Plant in Athi-River. There is no notable marketing strategy for KMC products which has led to loss of the Commission’s traditional market.
Given this scenario, the management of KMC has realized the need for Commission to develop a strategy which will help it recoup and consolidate its original local and export market as a producer of top quality meat cuts and processed products.