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Ready-to-cook chips a cut above the rest

Kibiru Muthaka hung up his boots at Transcentury in April 2012 with a good reason. He wanted to explore investment opportunities in agro-processing.

He started Panagro which makes ready-to-cook potato chips. Panagro is a subsidiary of Croecus Group.

“I thought it wise to venture into agro-processing by adding value to potatoes and bringing convenience to people,” said Muthaka.

“I took into consideration the busy schedules of most Nairobians. Panagro chips are designed to make life easy,” said Muthaka.

After production and testing in October last year, Panagro prepared to launch the ready-to-cook chips into the market.

The product was officially launched on February 11.

“I trust that we are going to take the retail stores and the country by storm soon,” he said.

Since the launch, sales have increased. In a day, they make tens of deliveries within the city.

“A one and half kilogramme of Panagro chips goes for Sh250 and we make about 100 deliveries daily,” he says.

The growing number of customers is a motivation. The company, according to Muthaka, is ready for the task since its plant in Industrial Area can produce five tonnes a day.

Not well received

Panagro has contracted three farms in Kinangop to supply it with potatoes.

The company has 11 employees including three delivery men and the production manager, John Kinyanjui. He ensures product specifications are met.

Muthaka said they hoped to explore hotels and retail stores for bulk deliveries from March.

“Our greatest challenge is navigating the procurement processes of most of these institutions,” he says.

He said chefs love Panagro’s products but the procurement processes are very complicated.

Before settling for ready-to-cook  chips with a shelf life of seven days, he had ventured into frozen potato chips. He dropped the idea at the pilot stage as the product was not well received.

The 27-year-old Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Towson University in Maryland and has previously worked for Capital Markets Authority in Kenya and Ferris Baker Watts in Maryland, USA.

He has also founded Alpha Review, a provider of CFA exam review courses where he is a part time lecturer and consultant.

He is a member of the East African Society of Investment Professionals (Easip) and the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of South Africa.