Monthly Archives: March 2009

NOMU – African Food Processor

What about a South African company for a change?


NoMU - eat. drink. live. - Rubs, Dippers, Grinders, Vanilla, Cocoa, Hot Chocolate — products.jpg

from: NOMU
(click image for full story online)


The have a range of things to season your cooking as well cocoa and vanilla. All is packed and presented in a minimal designer manner. They offer grinders, rubs, powders and dips and put an emphasis both on the environmental and health issues. The range is not limited there are for instance 20 different rub flavours.

The potential for these small volume, high value products must make them a natural for the discerning markets of Africa! Cape Town based, the site is open to importers.


Crispy Banana Snacks

Its only coincidence that this comes after I start posting about drying! What caught my eye was the high value add obtained for this product which is after all widely available in tropical africa in a somewhat less attractive format.


New Food Products | Crispy Bananas Debut in the Snack Aisle | Food Processing.jpg

from: Food Processing
(click image for full story online)


The product is described as “kosher-certified, all-natural snacks that are dairy-and gluten-free and contain no added sugar, preservatives, colors, flavors, fat or cholesterol”. Each 15g pack contain about a banana and contains 2g fibre and mainly carbohydrate.

The interesting point is the selling price which is US$ 1.50 a pack, probably a result of expensive freeze drying technology and a costly pack but also linked to the multiple product quality claims.


Mopane Worm Problems Effect The Poorest – Southern African Traditional Foods

Mopane worms are critical to nutrition and income generation for most households in those rural areas in Africa where the mopane tree grows. However, climate change and over harvesting of the worms as one of the few income generating opportunities in rural areas are threatening the species’ survival.

Mopane worm on a branch of a mopane tree.

Mopane worm on a branch of a mopane tree.


Mopane worms are the caterpillar stage of the Emperor Moth, Gonimbrasia belina, which feed almost exclusively on the mopane tree Colophospermum mopane. The mopane worm harvest in South Africa is estimated at $40 million a year, of which approximately 40 percent goes to producers who are primarily poor rural women. In addition to the income generated dried mopane worms can contribute significantly to rural household nutrition mainly through their 53.3 percent dry weight digestible protein content.

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Fruit & Vegetable Drying – I

I intend to do a series of posts on fruit and vegetable drying given that this is one of the simplest, safest and cheapest processing technologies. However, as I am always promoting that we need to start at the market side. We also need to define the sector we are working in.

But first a photo to get us thinking away from the shriveled dark brown piece of “banana” that we are used to see.

Flickr Photo Download_ Dried Fruit.jpg

photo by ccarlstead
(Creative Commons License)


This attractive and tasty looking of fruit is on sale in bulk, in a market in Istanbul. While I have seen many markets selling bags of cereals in Sub Saharan African few seem to sell dried fruit which is essentially just as well preserved.

Also of interest in this photo is that the fruit is not simply dried but glazed, dusted and prepared in different ways.

These large quantities of dried fruit could represent fruit that was in excess of the demand for fresh fruit that could have been wasted if not dried and was possibly purchased at a low price. Otherwise it could have been fruit that was purposefully grown to be dried to provide food for use during the winter or even as a supplier to a dried fruit producer.

So there’s lots to think about! which we will be doing over the next while in this series of posts.


UK Food Manufacturers and Retailers Agrees to Fight Waste

I have often posted on the waste issue – highlighting the problem, looking at solutions and reporting on achievements. Now, in the UK, we have a real agreement in place and initial results that look promising.


Retail homepage - WRAP.jpg

from: WRAP
(click image for full story online)


Retailers and manufacturers are committed to working together to cut the UK’s household food waste by 155,000t or 2.5 per cent of the total waste by the end of 2010 – equivalent to $520 million and 700 000 tons of Carbon Dioxide a year.

The agreement is part of WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign and has already achieved The campaign which was launched in November 2007 had already delivered a reduction of 110,000 tons in the annual amount of household food waste by March 2008.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery products, dairy, meat and fish products are the biggest sources of household food waste, according to WRAP. The latest initiative will focus on eliminating waste by developing more effective labeling; pack size range, storage advice and packaging to keep food fresher for longer.

This is interesting when compared to the situation in Africa where hunger and famine are widespread. There is of course no way of saying how many people this mass of food could feed but its interesting that that in the recent Myanmar Emergency Operation by the World Food Programme people received 450 g/day of food or 0.16 ton a year so a million people would have consumed 160 000 ton a year!


Packaging Resources in West Africa

Packaging is very often a major problem in small and medium scale processing in Africa – poorly packaged products will seldom compete with well designed imports.

This document is another one from the West Africa Trade Hub, a really good resource especially for businesses in West Africa. On the other hand much of the information is generic and an East African business could source local suppliers through the West African suppliers listed here



from: West Africa Trade Hub
(click image for full story online)


The document, which is free to download has sections covering general information on different kinds of packaging, information on selecting packaging, specific information on labeling and EU & US regulations, some focused information for West Africa, a directory of West African packaging suppliers, a case study on cashew packaging and a list of appropriate websites.

The 27 page document is well illustrated and contains practical and useful information.


More on EnWave Drying Technology

The previous post was based on the commercial press view of the technology – a little more looking gave another more technology and product based view.



Welcome to Enwave.jpg


from: EnWave
(click image for full story online)


EnWave seems to have been focussed on high value freeze drying application in active pharmaceutical dehydration and the dehydration of bulk food cultures, probiotics and fine biochemicals such as enzymes. So are now looking for high value food applications. They define the technology a bit further as a Radiant Energy Vacuum (“REV”) technology which combines microwave energy with the best shark vacuum pressure to produce high-speed dehydration.This offers the following process advantages:

    • high-speed processing in minutes rather than hours or days;
    • significant reduction in energy usage, start-up costs and machinery footprint;
    • improved retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavor and color;
      maintenance of the original texture of vegetables, fruits and meats;
    • reduced potential for large batch losses with continuous processing;
    • potential for creation of new product attributes such as “puffing”; and,
    • improved re-hydration characteristics


New Food Drying Technology?

Is this really a new technology? too often I’ve read about the next new drying technology but the changes haven’t been significant for many years. At the end of the day that cost is a major issue where many new technologies have failed.


New food dehydration kit delivers “revolutionary” benefits.jpg

from: Food Production Daily
(click image for full story online)


This seems to work on a combination of microwave heating and pressure to control the structure of the material in some kind of “black box” technology.

However the claims of the manufacturer EnWave Corporation of Canada that

compared with the industry standard, freeze drying technology, the new equipment cuts processing time to minutes rather than hours or days, cuts energy use by one third and capital costs by one sixth

make the equipment interesting.

The fact that the equipment is sold with a royalty income stream is also indicative of the company’s commitment to the technology.


The Beesness of Honey

This is a nice article on honey in rural Kenya.



(click image for full story online)


Of particular interest is the fact that the traditional hive, with some of its disadvantages is widely used because of the high cost (US$ 100) of commercial hives. Also that honey separation is done by a co-operative because of the cost of a separator.

The group of 40 beekeepers produced 8 000 kg of raw honey which had a value of US$ 8 000 or US$ 200/person/year. The co-operative was able to sell separated honey for US$ 8/kg indicating the possibility of value addition.

The potential of honey may be large given the difficulties in Europe and USA where swarms are being wiped out by colony collapse disorder and the possibility of moving toward own processing, organic, ethical and FAIRTRADE honey with much larger incomes.