Farmer’s Choice was founded in 1980, with the central purpose of selling fresh and processed pork products to all income groups in Kenya. To this day, the core business of Farmer’s Choice has been the production of fresh sausages, bacon, ham and pork. Beef has also become an important supplementary product. In the mid 1980s, the company expanded into pig production, establishing a new butchery complex and slaughterhouse at Kahawa West just outside Nairobi. An essential feature of this development was Total Quality Control from the beginning to end of the production process.
Central to the philosophy behind this new complex was that it should be built to international standards, satisfying hygiene and safety criteria laid down by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation, as well as the EU. The company has since gained ISO 22000 compliance. Hand in hand with the creation of the Kahawa West plant went a major effort to educate local consumers as to the value of the sausage compared with conventional foods. Not only does a well prepared sausage contain a wide variety of vitamins and proteins essential to a healthy diet, but it is also simple to cook. So successful has this campaign been that the sausage has become an integral part of the Kenyan diet, found everywhere from the most exclusive international hotels to the humblest of grocery outlets. Farmer’s Choice was acquired by Lonrho in March 1989. A second phase in the construction of the Kahawa West complex was then instigated, including the completion of a processing plant, again to FAO, WHO and EU standards.
When the processing plant was completed, a licence was granted for the export of the full range of fresh and processed pork produce to other parts of the world. The company changed hands again in 2000 when the Aga Khan – owned IPS group acquired a majority share holding. A Halal certified, state-of-the-art beef slaughterhouse subsidiary has been commissioned and is trading separately under the brand ‘Choice Meats’. Today, the company is selling its produce to Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Muscat, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. New markets are now being established in West Africa.
Within Kenya itself, a substantial proportion of the local production is consumed by international tourists. Health inspectors from the British, Japanese and US armies have also given the plant their seal of approval. Clients of Farmer’s Choice can thus rest assured that the meats they receive have been carefully and hygienically prepared in accordance with the highest international standards.