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KIMBO: Story Of Popular Cooking Fat, When Product Hit Market And New Ownership

The KIMBO cooking fat, an acronym for the Kenya Industrial Management Board, was a popular brand for decades before other players entered the market. 

Here is what WoK has gathered about the popular cooking fat that dominate the shelves from the 70s to the 90s.

Origin of the KIMBO

The cooking fat traces its rich history to the advent of World War II. According to an article by John Kamau, a factory was opened in Nairobi’s Industrial Area shortly after the start of the war to manufacture products needed by the military that were previously imported from Europe.

The products that were manufactured at the Industrial Area factory included fire bricks, cooking oil, insecticides, caustic soda, pottery, caustic soda and ceramics. 

Kenya Industrial Management Board (KIMBO)

The factory, serving the East Africa Campaign, sold all its products below the production price since it was not a profit making entity. KIMBO continued rolling out its product until the end of the war. 

After The War

With the war over, a decision had to be reached on what to do with the factory that had been renamed East African Industrial Management Board.

The board did away with some of the products and retained those that showed promise. One of the products that was retained and became very popular with Kenyans was KIMBO. 

The Industrial Management Board went in search of a partner and settled on Colonial Development Corporation. This was in line with an Act of Parliament meant to help the process of industrial development in British colonies.  

In 1949, the East African Industries took over the assets, liabilities and business of the Industrial Management Board. 

To build its capacity, the East African Industries invited Unilever in 1953 when the State of Emergency started. 

Apart from Kimbo, the company introduced Lifebouy, Lux, CowBoy and Omo to the East African market. 

With the it’s dominance under threat from new entrants, the East African Industries changed its name to Unilever. 

They now majored in soaps and detergents. Kimbo and cowboy were sold to Thika’s Bidco Company while Blue Band margarine was sold to Upfield Kenya Limited.

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