Soft drink manufacturer and conglomerate Coca-Cola plans to partner with Kenyan and Ugandan mango and passion fruit farmers. Coca-Cola hopes to open up new channels of revenue while simultaneously buying up the crops of local farmers that would otherwise have gone rotten in the heat of the market.
Soft drink manufacturer and conglomerate Coca-Cola plans to target the crops of African mango and passion fruit farmers. All Africa Global Media reports: “…the soft drink’s vice-president Alex Cummings is targeting 37,000 passion fruit and mango farmers in Kenya and another 17,000 from Uganda in a venture that would see 54,000 small-scale growers from the two East African countries reap from the two crops.” They have already set up talks with 5,000 farmers in the Murang’a region of Kenya, and hope to expand the operation into Uganda. Harvesting the juice of the fruits would open up new routes of income for the multi-national company.
This massive investment comes at a convenient time, as African Mangos have received a wealth of good press due to TV personality and medical doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz’s endorsement of the fruit. In an article from the January 2nd issue of publication First for Women, Dr. Oz iterates: “There are brand new studies that have come out showing that African Mango actually acts like a super-potent fiber. And because of that, it’s highly effective in sequestering cholesterol and taking it out of your body.” Oz has hailed the African Mango as a “breakthrough supplement… a miracle in your medicine cabinet that can help you lose 10 pounds.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz’s wide-scale following among American housewives is massive and wealthy, and his endorsement provides a guaranteed market for Coca-Cola to sell its products. This opens up new doors for Coca-Cola, who would like to utilize the good press of this recently deemed “super-fruit”, reminiscent of the pomegranate revival of the last decade.
Cummings suggests that Coca-Cola would replicate this project pending success in Kenya. He has also expressed the conglomerate’s commitment to: “partnership and buying from the local market as much as possible. We strongly believe the communities we work with must also become wealthy.”
This commitment to the wellbeing of the communities from which Coca-Cola buys has led to a new ally in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. The support of such a well-established non-profit adds credibility to Mr. Cummings’ statement.
Many issues face the Kenyan and Ugandan fruit farmers, the first of which being fruit flies, which can ruin as much as 30%. Coca-Cola also plans to educate farmers on how to minimize loss by increasing yield. With new techniques, Mr. Kennedy Muthama, an officer of non-governmental organization Technoserve, expects that farmers could increase profits by at least 50%.