Kakuzi Plc, a Kenya-based agricultural cultivation and manufacturing company partly owned by media mogul John Kimani, has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Driscoll’s, a California-based seller of fresh berries, as part of its strategic expansion plans.
The collaboration with Driscoll’s comes nearly five months after the Kenyan firm was granted permission by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to process and prepare export-grade fresh avocados for the Chinese market.
In line with its commercial blueberry trials that began two years ago and have yielded impressive results, Kakuzi will export blueberries in commercial quantities to the European, Middle Eastern, and Asian markets through the new deal with Driscoll’s as it continues to diversify its operations, earnings, and revenue base.
Frozen and ready-to-eat blueberries, as well as high-quality roasted macadamia snacks sold in local supermarkets and greengrocery retail stores, will be exported under the partnership.
According to Kakuzi Managing Director Chris Flowers, the addition of blueberries to the company’s core crops, which include avocados and macadamia, will help Kakuzi diversify its operations even further for the benefit of its shareholders.
“Driscoll’s is proud to be associated with Kakuzi, and we hope that the current production volumes will be significantly scaled up as this is an opportunity to grow the volume of blueberries produced in Kenya and to grow the regional demand for this superfood,” Garland Reiter, vice president of global blueberry leadership for Driscoll’s, said.
He went on to state that the partnership is a watershed moment in the history of blueberry exports to the international market, as the agreement with the Kenyan firm will result in commercial blueberry exports to Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.
Kakuzi reported a significant increase in blueberry production at the end of its 2021 fiscal year.
The products, which were all sold in local and export markets, were developed as part of the firm’s pilot commercial trials as it continues to develop additional value-added consumer products for domestic and regional markets.
Shares in Kakuzi surged to a price of Ksh400 ($3.347) on the Nairobi Securities Exchange in response to the recent development, as investors scrambled to acquire stakes in the firm after news of the partnership went public.
As a result of the recent price increases, Kakuzi’s market cap has risen to Ksh7.85 billion ($65.7 million), while Kimani’s stake has increased to Ksh2.53 billion ($21.2 million).
Kimani, a member of Kakuzi’s board of directors, owns 32.3 percent of the company, or 6,330,699 shares.