Before being hired by Premium Foods as their quality assurance officer, Jacob Sarfo served as an apprentice with Premium Foods through the Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) apprenticeship program. “After graduating from Kwame Nkrumah University in Kumasi, Ghana, I knew I wanted to work in food production. When I learned that PFS can make that come true through their apprenticeship program, I gladly applied,” said Jacob. Once the one-year apprenticeship ended, Jacob was hired by Premium Foods where he utilizes the skills he learned from his apprenticeship. “I use a lot of the skills I learned from the food safety apprenticeship program including running quality checks, liaising with external food safety auditors and building the self-confidence I need to excel in my job.” In the next five years, Jacob would like to own a business but ultimately wants to help others realize their potential just as he did through Partners in Food Solutions.
Premium Food’s current apprentice, Maxwell Bruce, is also in the Partners in Food Solutions apprenticeship program and shares similar goals to Jacob. “I knew joining the PFS apprenticeship program would give me the exposure to the industrial food system that I desired and that’s why I applied,” he said. Maxwell has the unique opportunity to work alongside former Premium Foods apprentice, Jacob, and learn about food safety from someone he can look up to. “Working with Jacob motivates me to work harder. He helps me move outside of my comfort zone and shows me how to apply the knowledge I learned in school to real-world scenarios at Premium Foods.” Once finished with his apprenticeship at PFS, Maxwell would like to go back to school to obtain his Ph.D. in food science and technology, and hopes to work for an organization that addresses food security.
Sometimes it takes a virtual village to make a delicious and nutritious loaf of bread. DH Geda Flour Factory, a wheat processing company in Ethiopia, was interested in seeing if they could create a nutritious product using the leftover wheat germ from their flour processing. They looked to Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) and TechnoServe, with the support of USAID, for assistance.
Incorporating wheat germ into products like bread and muffins adds vital nutrients such as fat and fiber, and improves the overall nutritional value of the product. DH Geda, along with its customer Latika Bakery, worked with PFS volunteers and TechnoServe staff on a product formulation project that utilizes the leftover wheat germ from their milling process.
A critical element of the project was creating a baked product that was acceptable to local tastes. To develop it, volunteers tested varying levels of wheat germ in bread and muffin formulations. They also had local customers of the bakery try different recipes to see which one consumers would prefer. After many rounds of baking and dozens of taste tests, the team provided DH Geda with a bread recipe that included flour and wheat germ. They can now use it as a product example to show their commercial customers that adding nutritious wheat germ can produce delicious products.
DH Geda has already seen success and several bakeries have wheat-germ enhanced products in the market. There is also great potential that even more will be included in future products because the team is working with the Ethiopia Millers Association to encourage more Ethiopian millers to produce wheat germ and sell it.
According to Yohannes Tesfu, a senior food processing specialist with TechnoServe, “The wheat germ product was not widely known in the market... DH Geda is the first company in the country to sell wheat germ and they have so far sold 200 kg (more than 400 lbs) in the first couple of months since the project was completed.”