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jars of honey

Client That Supports 7000 Traditional Beekeepers Achieves Food Safety Milestone

 

Located in Lusaka, Zambia, Forest Fruits is one of the leading producers of organic honey and beeswax in Zambia. Committed to improving the livelihoods of farmers, Forest Fruits sources honey from over 7000 traditional beekeepers near the Zambezi River that utilize sustainable farming practices. Forest Fruits’ main product is not pasteurized and therefore maintains the healthy bioflavonoids, enzymes and other nutritional elements. To further improve the quality of their products, Forest Fruits looked to become HACCP certified. “Being HACCP certified would add great value to our product,” said Christian Nawej Kabongo, general manager of Forest Fruits. “The certification provides the safety that every consumer would like to be assured of.”

Forest Fruits had challenges passing their previous HACCP audit due to lack of in-house expertise and poor adoption of HACCP requirements into their operations. In order to achieve their goal of becoming HACCP certified, Forest Fruits worked with General Mills volunteers Tomomi Fujimaru and Natalia Faiden. “Volunteering at PFS provides the perfect combination of taking advantage of the resources and knowledge that we have at General Mills to support and develop the food industry where it is needed, and getting to know other cultures and learn from them,” said Natalia. “It’s also a great vehicle for growing the food industry by partnering with great leaders amongst the industry.”

When Tomomi and Natalia started the project, Forest Fruit’s HACCP program was far from being audit and certification ready. Tomomi said, “Natalia and I reviewed their program in detail, asked many questions and provided candid feedback that would help them achieve their goal of obtaining a certification.” Not being able to see the process and the products in person did pose additional challenges, but through the team’s commitment Forest Fruits was able to address their challenges and improve their system.

“Without a doubt, my favorite part of this project was seeing Forest Fruit’s transformation and them receiving the certification seals at the end of the project,” said Natalia. “Forest Fruits’ willingness to learn and their positive attitude was a huge part of this success.”

Today, Forest Fruits has a team of food safety processors who are now fully qualified to handle food processing. “This was not an easy journey for us, but it was worth it,” said Christian. “The external auditor was very impressed with the work done and the readiness of our team. We’re thankful for the volunteers who helped us prepare for the audit and we share this achievement with you!”

women smiling

Mentoring the Next Generation of Food Industry Leaders in Africa

 

Oyeyemi Fadairo, a quality control lead at Wilson’s Juice in Nigeria, was looking to gain insights into pertinent issues in the food industry and receive guidance for advancement in her professional career. Oyeyemi decided to join the PFS mentorship program in hopes of being paired with a mentor who could help her navigate her career. Earlier this year, Oyeyemi was matched with Lucy Buteyo, a Senior Quality Engineer at General Mills.

Lucy was raised in Kenya and has spent the past 15+ years working in the food industry, joining General Mills earlier this year. “I joined the mentorship program because I wanted to reciprocate the mentoring opportunities I have been fortunate to receive during my career,” said Lucy. “I wanted to share my knowledge and skills for good and help someone with their personal and professional development.” For the past six months, Oyeyemi and Lucy have been meeting each month to discuss skills and training that make a successful food quality professional. They’ve also been working on a HACCP/food safety plan for Wilson’s Juice together.

“The mentorship has been both impactful and rewarding,” said Oyeyemi. “Through our mentorship, we’ve been able to identify necessary areas of improvement at my company in regards to food safety. I have also noticed defining moments that have helped shape my thinking, which I believe will be fundamental in addressing improvements in the food industry.”

Lucy and Oyeyemi’s mentorship is almost complete, but both plan on continuing to meet after their formal mentorship ends. “My mentee’s level of engagement and willingness to learn made it a very good experience,” Lucy said. “I can’t wait for our relationship to continue.”

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FY2021 Annual Report

 

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Eezee Noodles

Making Local Noodle Company 100 Percent Zambian

 

For the past nine years, Java Foods has steadily built demand for its fortified instant noodles throughout Zambia. Though it’s a Zambian brand, the noodles themselves had always been produced in Asia under a co-pack agreement and imported. That is until 2020, when Java opened their new noodle production facility in Lusaka.

“It was time to transition to manufacturing locally. And to get it right the first time, we needed professional help to maintain or improve on the trusted brand we had created. This is where PFS fit in perfectly,” said Java Production Manager Stephen Opondo.

Bart Bender, Ardent’s technical services manager in Wisconsin, and Xin Liu, who has recently left Ardent Mills after five years, worked together on formulating the new noodles. They helped select the best flour for the product, coordinated the flour and noodle tests done in the U.S. lab and sent samples back to Zambia for their evaluation.

Though Bart has over 35 years of experience in the flour milling industry, he still learned something new during the project. “I didn’t know much about the quality and consistency parameters for the flour and oils available in that area (Southern Africa).” he said. “Those issues were greater than expected and needed to be realized in our evaluations.”

That deep knowledge and attention to detail really paid off for the Java team. “Their knowledge in food processing was unmatched. The kind of dedication they gave to the project was so encouraging and they were very free in sharing their knowledge,” said Stephen.

Java Foods Founder Monica Musonda agrees and says PFS support over the years has helped them to think big. “We want to see Java become one of the big food processors and consumer goods manufacturers in Southern Africa – focusing on producing food that is good for the community. We hope to add new foods to our portfolio and also export into the region,” she said.

And Bart may even have the opportunity to help Java in realizing that goal. “I loved watching the video of the Java team producing instant noodles on their production line. A job well done!” he said. “This was my first project with PFS and I will be looking for another to join.”

headshot of kailey bullock

Volunteer Spotlight: Kailey Bullock

Kailey Bullock is a specialty grain merchant and has worked with three Partners in Food Solutions clients: Spice World in Kenya, Supa Seki and Sozi Integrity Trading, both located in Tanzania.

PFS: Tell us about yourself and your role at Ardent Mills.

KB: I developed a passion for agriculture at a young age by growing up in the ag industry in Texas. Now I reside in Colorado and enjoy spending time outdoors. At work you will find me purchasing numerous commodities as a specialty grain merchant for The Annex.

PFS: What is your main motivation for volunteering with PFS?

KB: To help feed the world.

PFS: Why did you choose to volunteer as a Client Lead?

KB: I volunteered on a few projects throughout the past couple of years and really enjoyed it. Being a Client Lead is a slightly different kind of opportunity with PFS.

PFS: What’s your favorite part of volunteering with PFS?

KB: Directly making a positive impact on clients in the food industry who want to make a difference in the world. Through PFS, clients receive guidance through challenges and solutions to better enhance their operation. PFS does a great job putting together a diverse group of volunteers to reach the clients goals for the project.

PFS: If someone is hesitant to volunteer with PFS, what would you say to them?

KB: Self growth revolves a lot around putting yourself out there and trying something new. It is very rewarding when helping someone in need by giving a little bit of your time and expertise. PFS creates a support system for both clients and volunteers by strategically putting teams together.