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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.

award winners

Join Us In Celebrating Our Third Annual PFS Service Award Winners

Every year, we honor several special individuals for their outstanding contribution to Partners in Food Solutions. Named after our founders, John Mendesh and Peter Erickson, these awards go to people who most demonstrate enthusiasm, drive for results, employ creative problem solving, and show tenacity, grit, wisdom, and humility. After receiving 40+ nominations, we are excited to share this years award winners...

Emmy van der Heijden, DSM, Project & Project Engineer (John Mendesh Award)

"Emmy's ability to piece together complex moving parts to make them meaningful is a skill most people desire but few people possess. She does it all with a smile on her face. Her laughter and excitement for each meeting is contagious."- Gloria Maamee Abena Otoo, PFS.

Amanda Traaseth, PFS, Director of Operations (John Mendesh Award)

"Ever since Amanda joined PFS, she's added structure to our processes and formalized the way we do things in the field and she does it with boundless enthusiasm and a smile! I see her a the mother of the Direct Team!" - Christian Dedzo, PFS.

Kurt Schneider, PFS, Senior Advisor (Peter Erickson Award)

"Kurt has always been there for the Direct Team. He provides great advice, helps manage the team, and used his expertise to design and execute pilots for certifications and labs that were instrumental for our clients." - Erika Smith, PFS.

Staci Seibold, General Mills, (Retired) VP of Innovation, Technology and Quality (Peter Erickson Award)

"Staci's  boundless enthusiasm, warmth, and creativity has been a bedrock of PFS from our inception. She has done as much as anyone to build an inclusive community of volunteers. So much of our volunteer community has its roots in her commitment and engagement." - Jimmy Bettcher, PFS.

three flour product labels

The Magic Moment When a Client's Vision Comes to Life

 

AJ Aumock is a food industry veteran with over 25 years of experience as a marketer. He currently leads the marketing efforts for Cargill’s Truvia, a zero-calorie, plant-based Stevia sweetener brand. Throughout his life, AJ has been an avid volunteer – working with children, building schools and packing meals – but saw PFS as an unique opportunity to use his skills and expertise to help others and develop sustainable businesses. For the past six months, AJ has been supporting PFS client Assisi Foods, a Ghana based maize milling company, with the development of packaging label designs.

Assisi Foods was established in 2017 and currently produces several varieties of maize flour blends. “Our vision is to grow our business and supply staple foods for the Ghanaian market,” said Victoria Dzigbordi Akumpule, co-founder and general manager of Assisi Foods. “PFS created the perfect platform for us to receive much-needed professional help in designing our product labels so we can reach as many food lovers as possible.” In collaboration with Minneapolis-based design agency Mackey Creative, AJ and the volunteer team developed several packaging designs that brought Assisi’s brand to life. The team was influenced by the colors of Africa when conceptualizing the design for the labels. They also incorporated a popular pattern that would be
recognized by the local community.

“My favorite part of this project was the moment we unveiled the packaging designs to Victoria for the first time,” said AJ. “Seeing her witness her vision through colors, words and images was a magic moment for us.” Through this project, Victoria and her team have learned a lot. “Working with different experts on the various areas of marketing brought up strategic areas as a brand we will continue to focus on as we move forward,” said Victoria. Assisi Foods is currently in the process of getting their brand registered with the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority. “I know the new labels will help us reach a more elite customer base and increase our market share,” said Victoria. “The outcome of the product labels really got me excited about what is next for Assisi Foods!”

family members standing next to one another

Cargill’s Aziz Rehman Helps Make Company’s Journey “shorter, straighter and smoother”

 

In 2019, Aziz Rehman joined Partners in Food Solutions as a new volunteer. While looking for an opportunity to get involved, he was introduced to Rumishael and Daughters, a grain- based breakfast food start-up based in Tanzania. “I knew I wanted to work with Rumishael and Daughters because I felt like there was a lot for us to learn from one another,” said Aziz. “Volunteering as their Client Lead, I’ve had the opportunity to see their company grow from a small start up in 2019, to introducing their first product to market, to now – expanding their product portfolio after much success.”

Robyn and Rumishael, founders of Rumishael and Daughters, dreamt of starting a family-owned business that made a positive impact on the local Tanzanian community. After 13 years of living in New Zealand, the husband and wife duo made their dreams a reality and moved back to Tanzania with their three children to start Rumishael and Daughters. “We spent years ideating what Rumishael and Daughters could be and ultimately decided that we wanted our company to produce nutritious, tasty and affordable products made with locally-grown grains. We’re really fortunate to have Partners in Food Solutions and their volunteers as advisors. As a start-up, having PFS volunteers who selflessly offer their precious time and expertise to ensure our success, especially given how young and fragile our company is, has been absolutely invaluable and helped develop our confidence,” said Robyn.

As a Client Lead, Aziz’s role is to support Rumishael and Daughters by helping manage their project portfolio. Since Aziz started in the role, he has overseen more than seven projects ensuring the projects go smoothly and reach their objectives. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Rumishael and Daughters,” said Aziz. “I’ve learned so much about product development and marketing, and have seen Rumishael and Daughters reach milestone after milestone. This has been a great opportunity to improve people’s lives across Africa while working remotely.”

Rumishael and Daughters is currently working on some new projects including developing new products and creating a marketing strategy. Furthermore, Rumishael and Daughters has started the process of partnering with the World Food Programme and will produce super cereals for them in the near future. “Partners in Food Solutions and Aziz have helped us make Rumishael and Daughter’s journey shorter, straighter and smoother. We really enjoy and appreciate working with Aziz. He is a constant source of support to us. He is committed to our success and we are incredibly grateful. When our factory laboratory is more sophisticated and worthy of a name, we plan to name it the ‘Aziz Rehman Laboratory’.”