PepsiCo bought a stake in the Ethiopian crisps company in 2020, joining Senselet’s Dutch founder Veris Investments as a major shareholder. Veris set up Senselet in 2015 with a mission to contribute to the development of the potato value chain in Ethiopia.
The company’s processing site, located outside the country’s capital Addis Ababa, was constructed in 2017 and commercial production started later the same year. Today, Sun Chips are sold in approximately 10,000 retailers – predominantly souks (small market shops) – across Ethiopia, available in Original Salt, Habesha (regional spices), Tomato and Paprika flavours in three pack sizes.
PepsiCo’s $40m injection will fund the construction of an additional production line, along with a completely new snack production line. This will create up to 500 ‘direct’ jobs, but PepsiCo contends “the indirect impact on farmer employment will be even bigger.”
Ethiopia – officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa and home to 113.5m inhabitants, making it the second most populace country in Africa after Nigeria.
Over the past 15 years, Ethiopia’s economy has been among the fastest growing in the world (at an average of 9.5% per year). However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a major impact on the country’s rising energy and food costs. Ethiopia is heavily reliant on both countries for wheat and fertilizer.
The country, however, has a thriving agricultural sector, producing coffee, pulses (beans), oilseeds, cereals (Africa’s second biggest maize producer), sugarcane and potatoes.