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!”