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From the soil to the pan

Article - August 17, 2011
Deeply rooted in the soil of East Africa, Bidco is creating a fully integrated edible oil business in Tanzania and beyond
When Bidco Oil moved into Tanzania in 2001, it initiated a new era for both the 40-year old company and for the country.

Bidco’s presence and investment in Tanzania – the first foreign country into which the Kenya-based company ventured – has helped the country to become less dependent on imports, while encouraging small-scale oil palm farmers to increase production and improve quality as it is from these farmers that the company buys up raw materials. Bidco, on the other hand, has benefited from direct access to one of Africa’s fastest growing markets.

The company, who now employs 600 people locally, chose Tanzania as its first foreign investment on the road to covering the continent for a number of reasons. “We saw it as a model project for our group. Tanzania has political stability and its economy has been growing steadily. We saw the potential for growth within the Tanzanian market itself,” explains Hemal Shah, CEO of Bidco. “We thought that it would be good to have a commercial production investment here, so that we could integrate backwards into agriculture over a period and achieve our ‘Soil to Pan’ vision.”

Nine years ago, Bidco had 10-15% of the market share for soap and some 5-8% for edible oil. Today and $20 million invested later, those figures stand at 55% and 45%, respectively, and the company commands a strong foothold in Zambia and Congo.

Bidco Oil is today the largest manufacturer of vegetable oils, fats, margarine, soaps and protein concentrates in East and Central Africa. Additionally, it offers the widest range of quality edible oil and hygiene products in the market.