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Kenya’s Sunripe Seeks Partners as Demand for Fresh Produce Grows

Sunripe, a closely held East African grower that supplies U.K. supermarkets such as Waitrose Ltd., Asda Stores Ltd. and Tesco Plc with avocados and mangoes, is looking for investors to expand its business and help it keep up with increasing demand.

The company with operations in Kenya and Tanzania may offer equity to backers who could improve market access and reduce its cost of borrowing in an industry with “massive” potential, Managing Director Hasit Shah said.

“We basically see unlimited scope for food,” he said in an interview today in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The company may earn profits of about $1 million this year from revenues of $40 million, Shah said. Last year Nairobi-based Sunripe “broke even” because of high oil prices, the volatility of the Kenyan shilling and poor weather, he said. “This year costs should be a lot more controlled.”

Sunripe, which sells as much as 7,000 metric tons of fruit and vegetables a year, is considering deals with farms in Ethiopia so it can supply produce all year, Shah said. “Once you have shelf space you don’t want to give it away,” he said.

Besides the U.K., Sunripe also makes “daily” deliveries to Woolworths Holdings Ltd. in South Africa, he said.

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