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Working paper - 16 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Patterns and Supply Chain Systems in Urban Kenya: Implications for Policy and Investment Priorities

Author(s):  Ayieko, Milton; Tschirley, David; Mathenge, Mary

 

Introduction

Fresh fruits and vegetables are consumed on a regular basis by nearly every household, rural and urban, in Kenya. They play an important role in nutritional balance, as they are rich in vitamins and other nutrients that are vital in controlling diseases (WHO/FAO 2003). Out of the total volume of national fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices produced in Kenya in 2003, amounting to approximately 4.35 million MT some 3.8 million MT or 88% was consumed domestically (Karuga, 2004).

Markets play a major role in this consumption: about 70% of rural households sell some amount of fresh produce, and over 90% buy an average of about Ksh400 of additional produce every month in markets. In urban areas, nearly 100% of households spend an average of over Ksh1,000 each per month on market purchases of fresh produce. Total market sales of fresh produce in urban and rural areas of Kenya likely average Ksh50 billion, or nearly US$700 million per year.

This is a big market! Most fresh fruits and vegetables are only minimally storable, and are not processed before reaching consumers (except for slicing, dicing, mixing, and packaging for some high-end markets). These characteristics mean that the marketing system which links farmers and consumers of fresh produce has a preponderant effect on the level and stability of supply and prices, on the real comes of consumers and especially farmers, and on the quality and safety of these foods. Marketing systems are not static: they change as production patterns, consumption patterns, and technology change, and Kenya is no exception.

These changes in Kenya have received a great deal of attention over the past two years, especially as regards the “rapid rise” of supermarkets, and their potential effects on farmers and consumers. This paper contributes to the empirical basis for policy debate about this phenomenon. We focus on the fresh produce consumption patterns and the marketing system serving Nairobi, home to over 2 million people.

After reviewing our data and methods, we ask two empirical questions: who consumes fresh produce (what are the consumption patterns for fresh produce in Nairobi), and how and where do they obtain it (what are the shopping patterns for these items)? Based on these findings, and on fundamental characteristics of the farm and consumer sectors in Kenya, we reach tentative conclusions regarding the market shares that supermarkets and “traditional” marketing channels are likely to have in a decade’s time. We then briefly examine selected characteristics of these marketing channels, and make suggestions for government and donor investment priorities to improve horticultural markets for farmers and consumers.

 

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Patterns and Supply Chain Systems in Urban Kenya: Implications for Policy and Investment Priorities

 

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