German, UK retailers suspend avocado supplies by Kakuzi

Kakuzi Plc in Murang'a County. [Photo/Daily Mail]

Days after UK’s leading grocery retailer Tesco suspended avocado supplies by Kenya’s agricultural-based firm Kakuzi PLC amid human rights abuse claims, two more giant grocery retailers in Europe have suspended supplies by Kakuzi.

UK’s Sainsbury’s and Germany’s Lidl, suspended supplies by the Murang’a-based agricultural firm.

The two firms said that they have no dealings with Kakuzi at the moment until the claims of human rights abuse are fully investigated.

 “Sainsbury’s will not accept further produce from Kakuzi until we are satisfied that the robust action plan in place addresses the issues that have been raised,” Sainsbury’s Corporate and Financial Communications Manager, Sophie Praill, said in an e-mailed comment to Business Daily.

In the same vein, Lidi said it has cancelled its avocado supplies order by Kakuzi until the claims are investigated.

“We have temporarily suspended supply from this business whilst an investigation takes place,” said Lidl.

“At Lidl GB, we operate with a fundamental respect for the rights of the people we interact with, whether they be our own direct employees, contract workers or people employed throughout our supply chains, and are firmly opposed to all forms of labour exploitation,” Lidl added in its statement.

Tesco was the first entity to freeze supplied by Kakuzi.

 “We have been working closely with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), alongside other ETI members, to investigate this issue and ensure measures have been taken to protect workers,” a spokesperson from Tesco stated.  

 “However, in light of additional allegations published, we have suspended all supply whilst we urgently investigate.”

Kakuzi is a local agricultural food processing and exporting company located in Murang’a County. It is battling a lawsuit after 79 Kenyans moved to the High Court in London through Leigh Day law firm.

The 79 Kenyans, including former employees, have sued Kakuzi’s holding company Camellia over the alleged series of human rights abuse between 2009 and 2020. 

Kakuzi guards have been accused of a series of violation of human rights including killing, rape, unjustified imprisonment among others.

The UK Sunday Times reported that part of the alleged human abuse is the recent killing of a 28-year-old man who was clobbered to death after being found stealing avocados.

Further, the rapes of 10 women and brutal attacks on locals from neighbouring villages found walking on paths within Kakuzi land.

In response to frozen supplies by its clients, Kakuzi in a statement said that it is engaging all the affected suppliers with the hope of addressing the issue.

“Regarding the issue of suspended trading with a UK supermarket, we are specifically engaging with the Ethical Trading Initiative, with a view to addressing all the concerns. This is to be done through a mutually agreed process,” Kakuzi said in a statement.