Four PFS Volunteers

Second Annual PFS Founders Service Award Winners Announced

We are proud to announce this year's winners of the second annual PFS Founders Service Awards. These two awards, named after PFS founders, honor our volunteers who most display enthusiasm, drive for results, creative problem solving, tenacity and grit, wisdom, and humility. Please join us in congratulating:


John Mendesh Award

Mike Marshak, Business Technical Manager with Medallion Labs & General Mills

"Mike has been a tireless volunteer for PFS from its inception.  His knowledge of food quality and safety and lab practices has helped PFS clients achieve numerous project milestones and completions.  His willingness to help us out at any time, any day has made him an invaluable resource to PFS and our clients."


Jordana Swank, Director of Technology Development and Futures with The Hershey Company

"Jordana has been an amazing client lead. I admire how well she manages three different project teams. She is very committed to the projects and displays so much enthusiasm and clear thinking."

"Jordana has eagerly shared her technical and project management skills with several  PFS clients over the years; she is always eager to join another project or role when the previous one wraps up."


Peter Erickson Award

Curtis Rainey, Assistant Quality Manager with Ardent Mills

"Curtis epitomizes dedication. He is currently supporting the Laboratory Analysis Project with Premium Foods in Ghana. He has displayed tenacity and humility to a large extent. He is punctual, responsive, and constantly joins project meetings; sometimes being the only volunteer on such calls. Curtis goes above and beyond to provide useful materials to the client."

Caio Malufe, Senior Manager in Corporate Development with Cargill

"In less than one year, Caio has volunteered to support three projects across two clients and is also a mentor to a TechnoServe employee in the early phase of their career. His calm demeanor and kindness are an ever-present complement to his business knowledge, and he makes himself available to talk with other volunteers outside of regularly scheduled team calls."

"Caio presents his expertise to clients and volunteer teams as his “experience” and what he has “seen” in the past, conveying his humility and approachability, and helping clients and teams feel comfortable working with him."




Erika Smith

Erika Smith Joins Partners in Food Solutions as Senior Director of Client and Technical Services

With a lifelong passion for international nutrition and more than two decades of experience in the food technology space, Erika joins the PFS leadership team as the Senior Director of Client and Technical Services. “I am extremely motivated to be a part of an organization that is directly focused on the goal of strengthening food security, improving nutrition, and increasing economic development in Africa by leveraging food science, and other disciplines, to better the food value chain,” she said. However, this is not Erika’s first time being involved with our organization. She first joined PFS as one of our earliest volunteers in 2009. Back then, she led various projects for clients in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire so she already knows a lot about how PFS works.

In her most recent role at General Mills, Erika led an international team as the Technology and Process Applications Director for the Global Dairy Business Unit in Vienne, France. She was responsible for technical strategy development and execution for General Mills’ global yogurt and ice cream brands. Her vast technical experience in the food industry makes her a valuable addition to our team and resource for our clients.

When Erika is not learning about the latest food technology trends, you can find her biking, hiking, golfing, and, most of all, traveling internationally with her husband, Mike. Some of her favorite travel experiences include bungee jumping in New Zealand, making spring rolls in Vietnam and hut-to-hut hiking in the Italian Dolomites.


Smucker's logo

The J.M. Smucker Company Joins Partners in Food Solutions in the Fight to Improve Food Security Across Africa 

MINNEAPOLIS (July 2020) – Partners in Food Solutions, a consortium of world-class food industry companies – General Mills, Cargill, Bühler, DSM, The Hershey Company and Ardent Mills – working together to address food security, nutrition and economic development across Africa has announced that The J. M. Smucker Company has become the organization’s newest corporate partner. For over a decade, Partners in Food Solutions has connected highly skilled volunteers from its corporate partners with entrepreneurial food companies in Africa to help strengthen their businesses. Volunteers have contributed more than 100,000 pro-bono consulting hours. With the addition of Smucker, Partners in Food Solutions partner companies represent over 800 years of food industry knowledge and experience. 

As the population of Africa is expected to double by 2050, ensuring communities have access to an adequate supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food is more important than ever. Through a remote, virtual consulting model, pioneered by Partners in Food Solutions and recognized by political and development leaders around the world, volunteers from Smucker will have the opportunity to support African food businesses by sharing their technical and business expertise. 

The partnership is the latest example of how the Company brings its commitment to thrive together with all of those impacted by its business to life. 

“As a food Company, we are passionate about ensuring global food security and are thrilled to support Partners in Food Solutions and its groundbreaking efforts to aid African communities in this area,” said Tamara Fynan, Executive Director, Community Engagement and Philanthropy, The J. M. Smucker Company. “The unique opportunity to engage our employees and leverage their technical and business expertise to make a meaningful impact is especially exciting. Our employees share in our passion to make a positive difference in the world and will be eager to lend their support to this great cause.” 

The timing of this new partnership could not be more appropriate. “The J.M. Smucker Company is a trusted food producer with a talented workforce who are committed to doing good in the world. They bring new expertise and capacity that will help us go even further in supporting a critical link in the African food value chain - local processors - to improve food security across the continent,” said Partners in Food Solutions CEO Jeff Dykstra. “COVID-19 has the potential to have a long-term impact on Africa's food system in ways that are unimaginable. Our volunteers are helping our clients address current challenges so they can become stronger and more resilient. The J.M. Smucker Company has a long history of creating successful brands and being able to utilize their expertise and experience will be invaluable for many of our clients right now.” 

Partners in Food Solutions has a network of more than 1,200 expert volunteers who have shared their technical and business knowledge with over 1,500 clients. With the addition of Smucker, Partners in Food Solutions will be able to tap into its 7,000+ employees and provide even greater support to its African clients. 

About Partners in Food Solutions Partners in Food Solutions, an independent nonprofit organization, works to increase the growth and competitiveness of food companies in Africa and beyond. Our goal is to improve access to safe, nutritious, affordable food and promote sustainable economic development across food value chains. We do this by inspiring business leaders and linking highly skilled corporate volunteers from our consortium of leading companies with promising entrepreneurs and other influencers of the food ecosystem. To learn more about Partners in Food Solutions, please visit 

About The J. M. Smucker Company Inspired by more than 120 years of business success and five generations of family leadership, The J. M. Smucker Company makes food that people and pets love. The Company's portfolio of 40+ brands, which are found in 90 percent of U.S. homes and countless restaurants, include iconic products consumers have always loved such as Folgers®, Jif® and Milk-Bone® plus new favorites like Café Bustelo®, Smucker's® Uncrustables® and Rachael Ray® Nutrish®. Over the past two decades, the Company has grown rapidly by thoughtfully acquiring leading and emerging brands, while ensuring the business has a positive impact on its 7,000+ employees, the communities it is a part of and the planet. For more information about The J. M. Smucker Company, visit


honey pots

From Mills to Honeycombs: Food Safety Lessons from Uganda


After working in food safety and quality for over 19 years, Chrissie Tuetken knows a thing or two about keeping food safe for consumers and making sure the processing plants meet strict standards. “I feel like it’s my duty to ensure companies have the resources to produce safe food. I have extensive experience in this area and love sharing this knowledge with others in order to establish good practices,” Chrissie said.

Last fall, Chrissie joined PFS client Bee Natural Uganda, a honey processor, on a project that included reviewing their GMP documents before being audited by the Uganda national regulatory body. “I’ve never worked with honey before, so this was a new experience for me. I had to learn what they do every day for their honey process,” she said.

There are many steps involved in producing safe honey for customers, Chrissie explained. “The product is checked before the combs are crushed and honey is extracted, then sieved, sterilized and packed into containers. I found it interesting that many of the general food safety ideas are the same even though the production steps were different. For example, we have to ensure our suppliers bring in the correct product and that checks are performed throughout the process to confirm the products meet specifications. Like many food products, the quality of our supply chain is key in producing quality products.”

When the project ends, Chrissie hopes Bee Natural Uganda and their quality team will gain a better understanding of the GMP prerequisites and can go on to become certified in the near future. “Overall, I have enjoyed learning from Bee Natural Uganda and talking through their food safety challenges as some of them are similar to the challenges we face in our plants.”


*Update (October 2020): Bee Natural Uganda is now prepared for a food safety and quality audit. Chrissie has recently joined a second project with Bee Natural Uganda helping them put together a HACCP plan that will further improve their food safety management system. 

Animal feed bags

Developing Animal Feed for Kenyan Farmers


Spice World, a grain and legume processor based in Nairobi, Kenya, recently decided they wanted to expand their animal feed business. They were already producing animal feed but on a smaller scale, using by-products from their grain and legume processing. In order to grow their animal feed production, Spice World looked to Partners in Food Solutions’ expert volunteers to assist in formulating feed for ruminant animals. Joyce Kibiru, a sales manager at Cargill who also has an animal health and production background, joined the project team to lend her expertise.

“I have a particular passion for volunteer and community work; not to mention Cargill has ‘community enrichment’ as one of its pillars for success,” Joyce said. “I was excited by the rare opportunity to help other agribusinesses and play a role in ensuring African companies were successful. Adding value to the farming and feeding of dairy cows has been a key motivator for me.”

Joyce’s help in the Spice World dairy feed formulation project was invaluable. She was able to leverage her skills and expertise in animal nutrition to help facilitate proximate analyses of soybean, corn, wheat, and sunflower meal. “The purpose of the analyses was to evaluate the safety and nutritional value of the ingredients. Proximate and digestible values are important aspects of formulating a cost-effective and efficient animal feed,” she said. Additionally, she connected the Spice World team with the Cargill ruminant team based in the US and South Africa to ensure the feed formula they were developing met the needs of dairy farmers in Kenya and made sense for the local African market.

Today, Spice World is conducting preliminary trials with local Kenyan dairy farmers to grade its overall performance and see how the dairy cows are tolerating it. Once a final formula is selected, the team will then start discussing production capabilities and the cost associated with producing the product in the necessary quantity.