Upfield has announced its ownership of the Blue Band margarine spread, a brand that for many years was produced by Unilever.
And as part of its diversification in the Kenyan market, Upfield, one of the largest producers of plant-based spreads globally, today 10th Feb. 2020 introduced new products under the Blue Band brand to tap changing consumer tastes.
The new products include Blue Band Peanut Butter, Blue Band Real Mayonnaise and Blue Band Cold Pressed Canola oil.
Low demand for margarine
Speaking during the launch, Upfield East & Southern Africa Managing Director Peter Muchiri said the company is repositioning the Blue Band in the market since it was taken over by Upfield about two years ago.
Kenya is the first country to expand Blue Band into new categories. All the new innovations are expected to roll out across Africa, Middle East & Asia as well as other global markets like South America in the coming months.
With the decline in margarine sales, Upfield realised customers were opting for more natural products that are healthier and less processed. It introduced the Blue Band Peanut Butter to take up this space. Mr Muchiri said the Blue Band Peanut Butter is made from crushed nuts without preservatives.
Blue Band Mayonnaise is a condiment product tailor-made for salad, burgers and sandwich dressing. It is made from natural ingredients and a rich source of Omega 3&6.
The third product, Blue Band Cold Pressed Canola oil, is an edible oil made from canola seeds making it a rich source of Omega 3, 6 & 9, vitamin E and fortified with vitamin A. This oil is also said to be cholesterol-free and non-GMO and best suited for salad dressing and various shallow fries.
Mr Muchiri said Upfield sources raw materials locally through partnerships with Agventure, especially in the production of Canola Oil whereby it purchases over 2000 tonnes of rapeseed from 3,400 small scale farmers from the Mount Kenya region, majority of them women.
This number is expected to increase to over 7,000 farmers in the coming years as demand for Canola oil drives increased production.
Upfield Head of Communication for Africa, Ms Oyebanjo Omutola, revealed that it is keen on recycling and creating environment-friendly storage packages. Despite having plastic packages, Ms Omutola said the company is looking for alternative storage tubs.
She noted that their current tubs are environment-friendly, reusable and recyclable. She said that Upfield is working on recycling the tubs into hangers, basins and crates.
Blue Band has been in Kenya since 1950s, and turns 65 this year. For many years, Blue Band was owned by Unilever. But in 2018, Unilever sold the margarine business to KKR, a US private equity firm for Ksh8 billion to focus on fast-moving consumer goods in the personal care category.
Phanice Mumbi holds a Diploma in Journalism and Multimedia from Africa Digital Media Institute. She can be reached on email at: [email protected]