FAO in Kenya

Enhancing competitiveness of Africa’s small and medium agro-enterprises through the development of food packaging systems

Project overview by Stephanie Gallatova, FAO Regional Office for Africa | ©FAO / Martina Torma

Appropriate food packaging plays a pivotal role in ensuring quality and safety as well as facilitating distribution and marketing of food products in national as well as global markets. However, in most sub-Saharan countries, poor packaging is one of the main reasons for the failure of locally manufactured food products to compete favourably with imported ones. Overcoming the packaging constraints that affect small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs) in the region will contribute to strengthen the entire food chain, improve the competitiveness of SMAEs and benefit all actors in the food supply chain.

 In this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is collaborating with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Industria Macchine Automatich S.p.A (I.M.A), a world leader in the design and manufacture of automatic machinery for packaging of foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals.  The joint-collaboration is implementing a project titled Improving Food Packaging for Small and Medium Agro-Enterprises (SMAEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of providing guidance to food chain actors in the region on the establishment of appropriate food packaging systems and building capacity towards the development of such systems.

 Kenya has been identified as one of the eight countries (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia) to receive support from the project. The  project will focus on  understanding the key needs of  national food packaging industries including packaging materials, equipment, services, regulations, technologies, knowledge and resources, and develop a sustainable business model for setting up national food packaging centres. The establishment of such packaging facilities will be carried out in the second phase of the project.

The project is funded by the Italian packaging manufacturer, I.M.A. S.p.A in partnership with FAO and the ITC. It is a good example of how actors of the public and private sectors can successfully pool their resources, knowledge and experience and work jointly towards a common objective.

 Stakeholder consultation meeting in Nairobi

On Thursday 30th March, FAO and the ITC organized a consultative meeting with private and public sector stakeholders actively involved in Kenya’s food packaging sector.  The aim was to better understand the industry, the role of the government and the private sector, and their potential contribution towards improving the national packaging system and establishing a national food packaging centre.

The event brought together representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Kenyan Agriculture and Food Authority, the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, the Kenya Institute of Packaging, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the University of Nairobi as well as packaging manufacturers. It provided a platform to identify priority commodities in Kenya for the packaging sector, the challenges and opportunities faced by SMAEs and a concept for the establishment of a national food packaging centre.

Stanley Kimereh, coordinator of the Kenyan chapter of the project, speaking on behalf of FAO Kenya noted that one of the major challenges facing Kenyan agricultural producers is the lack of markets for their produce. “Products of SMAEs are not competitive enough and they are not able to penetrate some of the major markets. Improving food packaging is a strategic move in addressing this challenge and making our food products more competitive.”

Improving food packaging will address major challenges such as reduced post-harvest damage, and improved quality, hygiene and food safety. This will enable SMAEs to access more competitive markets in turn leading to increased incomes for farmers.


Related information

FAO – Food Waste and Food Loss

International Trade Centre (ITC)

Industria Macchine Automatiche (IMA)



Martina Torma | Communications – FAO Kenya | Tel: + (254) 715762373 | Email: [email protected]

Ruth Njeng’ere | Communications - FAO Kenya | Tel: (+254) 726 888 084| Email: [email protected]