Why Kenya should do all it would take to expand its meat industry

Floice Mukabana, CEO of Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA), during her presentation at the 2024 Kenya Meat Expo and Conference held in Nairobi on June 12-14.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

By Floice Mukabana

The potential of Kenya’s meat industry is huge and largely untapped. The meat industry provides a plausible pathway out of poverty and food and nutrition insecurity for many households, including those who do not own land.

Kenya’s meat reaches different export markets, and thus, in addition to being known for tea, flowers, and coffee, the country is also recognised out there for its nyama, much the same way Kenyans love their famous local delicacy, nyama choma.

Kenya has the opportunity to continue spreading this sizzling delicacy to the rest of the world. We are home to one of Africa’s largest livestock herds, producing beef, lamb, goat, and poultry. We also enjoy a good demand for meat in the Middle East and within Africa.

Fortunately, the meat industry is among the prioritised value chains under the government’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) to achieve food security, improve people’s livelihoods and contribute to the achievement of an export-led economy.

Statistics show that Kenya’s meat and meat products exports in 2023 were valued at Ksh19 billion, compared to Ksh11.5 billion in 2022; a 39 percent increase. The export products mainly included meats from goat, sheep, fowls, rabbit, and turkey, among others.

In 2023, the total value of merchandise exports from Kenya amounted to above Ksh1 trillion for the first time, from the Ksh873 billion recorded in 2022. The impressive performance was not only contributed to by tea, horticulture, salt, plastering materials, lime and cement, and fertilizers, but also meat and meat products.

What does this say about the love for Kenya’s meat and the sector at large? That there is potential to scale up meat production and help feed the world.

The top five export markets for Kenya’s meat and meat products include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, South Sudan, and Kuwait. This shows that the top importers of Kenya’s meat and meat products are in the Gulf region, essentially the GCC countries that include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar as well as the State of Kuwait. GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council.

To tap the huge export potential of Kenya’s meat industry, there is a need to address a number of challenges that face exporters. These include limited exposure to international markets and buyers; over-reliance on one or two key export markets (60 percent of Kenya’s exports go to UAE); limited knowledge of consumer preferences in export markets; and limited development in distribution channels.

The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) is focused on addressing these shortcomings. Some of the strategies we are undertaking include participation in key exhibitions and trade shows such as Gulf Foods in the GCC region, and Sial in Europe, as a means to gain market access in key export markets;  undertaking trade missions in new markets such as West Africa, Europe, and Asia; conducting market research to inform consumer preferences in packages, meat cuts, cooked or pre-cooked products; and increasing exporters’ awareness of e-commerce platforms, retail chain management, and opportunities for in-home deliveries.

For Kenya, the journey for growing the meat industry has just begun. There is still a huge unexplored potential in the export of Kenya’s meat and meat products.


Floice Mukabana is the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency. She was among the key speakers at the Kenya Meat Expo and Conference hosted in Nairobi by the Nation Media Group and partners on June 12-14. More information about developments in Kenya's meat industry and its potential is available here