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Kenya Tea firm floats on water

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Kenya Tea Packers (KETEPA) has unveiled a new growth strategy with a venture into new product categories focusing on health-conscious consumers.

As if swimming against the current, the country’s largest tea blending and packaging company has ventured into the bottled water market with the launch of a brand dubbed Maisha.

KETEPA Managing Director Tim Chege said the move was geared towards tapping into the surging demand for bottled water. He said the firm was sharpening its focus on innovative products to address new emerging opportunities arising from changes in lifestyles in consumers.

“We are currently investing in new technology to upgrade our product offerings. We are now focusing on the health and lifestyle platform to increase our share of business in value added products,” Mr Chege said.

Maisha pure drinking water will be available in 300ml, 500ml, 1 litre, and 1.5 litre. An 18.7-litre bottle is also set to be introduced complete with dispenser machines.

The country’s bottled water market is fast growing and presents a lucrative opportunity for the firm.

The entry of KETEPA into the water business is set to face stiff competition from established brands such as Dasani, Quencher, Keringet, Aquamist, Kilimanjaro and most recently H2O among others.

The company has acquired purifying and distilling technology to produce the water brand.

“Our existing infrastructure in packaging and distribution gives us an edge to enter into this highly competitive business,” said Mr Chege.

But even as the company ventures into uncharted territories, Mr Chege said taxation in the bottled water should be reviewed as it is a burden on those who are the most vulnerable and in need of bottled water.

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He is of the opinion the government should review the 10 percent Ad Valorem tax and excise tax of Sh6 per litre.

The bottled water market is projected to grow by 42 percent between 2007 and 2012 to over 314 million litres. The estimated market value – as at 2007 – is Sh11.8 billion.

The bottled water segment represents only 0.4 percent of the total commercial value of water consumed. Conventional water represents 41 percent of total beverage consumed in Kenya today in terms of volume.

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