PepsiCo boosts Ethiopia’s snack market with majority stake acquisition in local crisps producer

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Senselet is one of the leading potato chip producers in Africa. Pic: GettyImages/naruedom
Senselet is one of the leading potato chip producers in Africa. Pic: GettyImages/naruedom

Related tags Pepsico Senselet Food Processing Veris Investments ethiopia

The Frito-Lay and Walkers Crisps maker has acquired a majority shareholding of Senselet Food Processing, an Ethiopian potato crisps company founded by Veris Investments in 2015.

Veris claims Senselet has ‘a leading market position’ in Ethiopia with its Sun Chips brand, which uses locally-sourced potatoes.

The Netherlands-based private equity firm says it set up Senselet to ‘contribute to the development of the potato value chain in Ethiopia’. According to Veris, Ethiopia has substantial potential for growing potatoes, but this has been largely untapped. More than one million farmers grow potatoes in Ethiopia, but yields are estimated around 20% of the potential, due to a shortage of high quality seed varieties, seed producers, technology, logistics, storage, potato knowledge and processing capacity.

In the past three years, Senselet has collaborated with organisations like the Netherlands Enterpise Agency, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and Wageningen University to facilitate farmer training programmes and establish partnerships with local farmers.

Today, Senselet has a factory just outside the country’s capital Addis Ababa, which employs more than 150 people. Its Sun Chips – available in three flavours: Habesha Spice, Paprika and Natural – are a popular snack enjoyed by consumers across the country.

Empowering Ethiopia’s potato farmers

Veris will maintain its minority interest in the producer and partner with PepsiCo to further grow the business and develop potato sourcing programmes in Ethiopia.

“PepsiCo shares our commitment to work with small- and medium-scale Ethiopian farmers as well as developing the potato value chain and sustainable farming in Ethiopia,”​ said Juliette de Wijkerslooth, MD of Veris Investments.

“Having PepsiCo as a partner will enable Senselet to leverage their extensive global expertise on potato cultivation, manufacturing and go-to-market capabilities as to further grow the company.”

This is the second major investment the US food and beverage giant has made in the snack category in as many months. Last month, PepsiCo announced it was acquiring BFY Brands​, the maker of PopCorners snacks.

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