18 best business ideas in food processing and value addition

Colorful herbs in Solar dryer greenhouse for drying food and herbs ingredient or agriculture products by sunlight heat.

In this article, we list the major causes of food waste in Kenya. Besides, we give you the 8 most profitable business ideas in food processing and value addition to reduce food losses and wastage.

Food waste management is a key global challenge today. It exposes millions of people to food scarcity and reduces farmers profits. In Kenya, the rate of post harvest food losses is 30%-50%. Reducing food waste has the potential to improve Kenya’s health and wealth.  As expected, highest food spoilage is amongst the small-scale farmers and traders.

It can be a profitable agribusiness idea for youth and women investors.

Causes of food waste and losses in Kenya

Pile of vegetable throw away as garbage at fresh-food market
Causes of food wastage and losses include rotting of perishable products, unplanned production and recalls

Spoilt food cannot be sold, consumed or fed to livestock. As a consumer, you can suffer health-wise with several death cases reported each year from food poisoning. The key causes of post harvest food losses at farm level are as listed below. You can have a profitable solution to solve each of them.

  • Spoilage of fresh products like vegetables, milk, meat and fruits on transit processing or in the store.
  • Low access to temperature control infrastructure such as freezers, milk coolers and chiller trucks is low.
  • “Rejects” by brokers who select the best and discard quality yields for cosmetic reasons such as unwanted sizes and shapes. 
  • Poor farming practices where produce has traceable high or banned pesticide and antibiotic traces .
  • Poor storage of foods exposing it to moisture and destructive pests such as weevils and mice.
  • Weak food control measures where contaminant food like maize and peanut toxic with aflatoxins gets into value chain necessitating recalls and disposal.
  • Seasonal production where farmers are faced by glut production beyond their capacity followed by scarcity.
  • Unplanned production where farmers do not match supply needs; quality and volumes to market demand
  • Inedible food parts like skin, bones, fruit peels and seeds account for huge amounts of food wastes from open air food markets and processors.

Best Business Ideas in reducing food wastage in Kenya

Observing Global G.A.Ps will improve quality of your yields reducing reject volumes by buyers

Discover eight lucrative business ideas in food processing and value addition in Kenya that benefits both food traders and farmers.

These affordable solutions are geared towards reducing food losses and wastage. You can offer educational commercial extension services, provide cold storage options, and even explore urban farming near markets for quicker access to fresh produce.

Organizing growers into marketing groups also streamlines operations for a thriving and sustainable food industry.

Give Educational Commercial extension services

Extension services will help farmers to produce high quality foods.

As an agronomist, you will advise food growers and handlers to adhere to sustainable food safety standards like the global good agricultural practices (G.A.Ps) and HAACP. As they observe hygiene and latest agronomic habits, they will produce high quality foods. It will be of desirable sizes, shapes and quality.

You will help to reduce food wastage in the market as out-growers and traders do not reject food for safety, cosmetic or other reasons.

Organize farmers into marketing Cooperatives

Organize many small farmers and traders into efficient marketing groups or cooperatives. Their collective efforts can reduce food wastes in two ways.

  • Accumulating produce together into economical volumes for bulk processing or transport.
  • Fund huge investments to preserve their food, add value or increase its shelf life.

Some investments that a cooperative can consider include milk coolers for dairy farmers, cold rooms for fruit and vegetable farmers or driers, millers and silos for grain farmers.

other benefits of operating in a cooperative include empowerment, risk mitigation and an easy access to resources.

Invest in cold storage

You can install and hire out space in cold rooms, silos, solar coolers or charcoal chillers.

Cold storage can preserve the quality of highly perishable products like fruits, meat, milk, or herbs. On the hand grains or pulses require dry storage free of moisture. As an idea, construct safe warehouses, silos and stores near the growers or consumers.

Your business model can be leasing or renting out space to charge users a daily storage fee to keep their produce safe.  

Invest in cold chain transport

Refrigerated trucks reduce food spoilage of perishable products like milk, vegetables or meats

Refrigerated trucks can add value for perishable farm products like milk, vegetables and meat.

Most of perishable food products get spoilt while on transit. You can solve this problem by giving cheap cold transport solutions. you can buy and lease refrigerated trucks and chiller tanks. While that sound expensive, you can consider cheap ones like the mobile solar milk coolers. It uses a small cooling system powered by the sun. It is mounted on a motorbike for cheap transit. it is easy to fabricate and you can sell, or lease them milk and vegetable cooperatives.

Faster means of transport like air can cut food spoilage considerably.

Sell food storage products

Increasing shelf life does not only reduce food waste but also give farmers more income.

pests such as weevils and moisture spoil a lot of food each year. There are storage bags and containers that can save farmers this waste. But, many cannot access them due to lack of information on their prices, availability or use. Some of the cheap ones for small scale maize farmers are; Hermetic bags and airtight containers. Medium traders can buy freezers and chillers for perishable products or mini silos for grains.

Increasing shelf life does not only reduce food waste but also give farmers more income. They can store their yield and sell when prices are high

Food Processing and value addition

Food processing is the most reliable method of tackling post harvest food losses. It increases product’s shelf life thereby cutting down on spoilage. Besides, you can use food wastes as raw materials to process valuable products. An example is use of waste fish skin to make exotic fish leather and animal feed.

Value addition is capital intensive and needs huge funding. Apart from reducing food losses, you will get higher revenues.  processed products like ghee, yoghurt and cream fetches higher prices than raw produce like raw milk.

Contract farming

Participating in Contract farming or an out-grower scheme can reduce farmers food waste various ways;

  • Fast collection of harvests shortly after harvest. It will reduce spoilage of foods as you seek for market.
  • Limit food losses that arise from poor quality yields. Contracted growers can access quality inputs and free agronomic advice from land preparation to harvesting.
  • Planned farming help reduce waste as farmers can only grow what will be bought.

As an entrepreneur, you can be the link between growers and off-takers through recruitment, audit, payment and offering extension services.

Promote urban Farming 

Urban farming will reduce spoilage that happen on transit. Consumers in towns can grow fresh foods on their backyards, rooftops and balconies.

You can make profits by offering them farm inputs, advice and information. Best ideas are making books and “how to” videos. You can also distribute certified seeds, planting containers, greenhouses or poultry houses.

10 Best business ideas in value addition for reducing food losses in Kenya

potato value addition machine

The post concludes with 10 simple and practical business ideas for food traders and farmers, addressing the challenges of food losses and wastage while creating valuable opportunities.

They are fruit and vegetable processing, drying, and preserving, as well as exploring innovative packaging solutions, entrepreneurs can transform surplus produce into marketable products. Moreover, food delivery services, herb and spice blending, cold storage rental, composting services, and farmers’ market stalls allow for greater market access and closer consumer connections.

Here is a list of the ideas for you.

  1. Fruit and Vegetable Processing: Create packaged, ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, or make jams, sauces, and pickles.
  2. Drying and Dehydration: Invest in equipment to dry fruits, vegetables, and herbs for longer shelf life.
  3. Canning and Preserving: Preserve produce through canning, which extends the product’s shelf life.
  4. Packaging Solutions: Offer eco-friendly, efficient packaging solutions for food products like bioplastic, compostable paper, and plant-based films The re-usable packaging like glass jars or metal tins.
  5. Food Delivery Services: Develop a local food delivery service app or website that connects farmers to consumers.
  6. Herb and Spice Blending: Create and sell custom herb and spice blends for home and commercial kitchens.
  7. Cold Storage Rental: Provide affordable cold storage facilities for farmers and traders.
  8. Composting Services: Collect organic waste from farms and markets and turn it into valuable compost for agriculture.
  9. Farmers’ Market Stalls: Rent stalls at farmers’ markets to sell a variety of products directly to consumers.
  10. Value-Added Products: Develop unique value-added products like dried fruit snacks, fruit juices, or homemade baked goods.

By focusing on value addition and sustainable practices, these opportunities not only enhances the livelihoods of food traders and farmers but also contributes to a more efficient and responsible food processing industry.

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