With a grant from the World Food Programme to update their facility, Ghanian maize processor Premium Foods looked to Partners in Food Solutions for assistance with setting up a lab at their facility. Premium Foods decided that in order to stay competitive, building an internal lab would allow them to conduct their own analysis while meeting stringent legislative market requirements and statutory legislation. “An internal lab will provide important food quality results in less time than if we continue to send them to external laboratories,” said Maxwell Bruce, food safety apprentice at Premium Foods. “Therefore, our team can reduce waste by conducting checks in real-time on raw materials, work-in-progress materials, and take corrective actions sooner before the product reaches the final stages.”
To assist Premium Foods in setting up their lab, PFS sought the advice of a volunteer who had lab and grain quality expertise. Curtis Rainey, an assistant quality manager at Ardent Mills, seemed to be just the right fit. “I love the opportunity to help others in the food industry,” said Curtis. “It’s also a fun way to get outside the normal daily grind and learn something new.”
Working on this project with Premium Foods was a bit more involved than the typical projects Curtis works on. “Because I was involved in the development of the analytical lab from the ground up, I got to take part in decisions like which countertops were purchased and discuss what the best testing methods are.” In addition to some of the more detailed parts, Curtis also helped develop procedures for the lab layout, setup, usage, and calibration of different testing procedures.
“Curtis has been a great help to us,” said Maxwell. “He assists in documentation and advises us on what to do to make this project a success. Plus, with Curtis’ help, our staff will know how to conduct laboratory analysis at the end of this project. The expertise we’ve tapped into from the volunteers, such as Curtis, will help us do similar projects on our own in the future and/or enable us to help other businesses in our country.”
Everybody has their own unique reason for why they want to volunteer. For Barbara Hansen that reason was very close to home - literally - in her home. “My husband and I adopted our daughter from Ethiopia, and while visiting the country during the adoption process we had the opportunity to meet with small business owners,” she said. “I was impressed by their strong desire to be successful and inspired by their energy and enthusiasm. Volunteering with PFS gave me the opportunity to connect with small Ethiopian businesses again and honor my daughter’s heritage.”
Barbara, a North America hub manager at DSM, has been volunteering with DH Geda, a flour processor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, since April of 2019. As the client lead, Barbara is responsible for making sure projects are as successful as possible and the client feels confident in the project volunteers’ recommendation.
In partnership with TechnoServe and USAID, PFS volunteers helped DH Geda complete a wheat germ product development project that created a new revenue stream for them. “The reaction of DH Geda when they realized how to do something, or what they could do, was priceless,” Barbara said. “For me, the opportunity to volunteer with PFS is something I am thankful for. I admire the talents of all the technical experts and the client’s team who have helped on the project. It is so good to see so many people doing something meaningful and that is what makes it worth the time.”
Today, DH Geda is the only company in Ethiopia selling wheat germ. They are currently selling in limited quantities but have plans to sell in bulk once they are able to stabilize the wheat germ.