Arla Foods Ingredients is product innovation partner in a new four-year project to turn papaya fruit into a nutritious and affordable snack for low-income consumers in Ethiopia.
Led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the project brings together multiple public-private partners. Their ultimate objective is to build a fruit processing value chain that will help reduce malnutrition, create jobs and cut post-harvest papaya loss.
The application team at Arla Foods Ingredients has already developed the first prototype recipes for a dried fruit protein bar based on papaya pulp and containing milk and whey-based ingredients.
“One of our major tasks will be to adapt the recipe to local preferences based on consumer insights. Another role is to work with local food producers to ensure they have the necessary technology and knowhow to produce it,” said Charlotte Sørensen, Arla Foods Ingredients business development manager.
Reducing post-harvest loss
As the fourth most popular fruit crop in Ethiopia, papayas are a source of income for more than 890,000 farmers. They are also highly nutritious, being particularly rich in vitamins A, B and C. However, every year, around 30% of the harvest is lost due to spoilage.
Solar drying is a low-cost and sustainable opportunity to reduce post-harvest loss and make more of the nutritious fruit available for processing into affordable foods. Addis Ababa University is investigating how to ensure the best nutrient retention during the drying process.
High local interest
GAIN project leader in Ethiopia, Meseret Worku explained: “Farmers and food processors are very interested in this initiative to produce high quality, affordable products. We will support them with nutritional and value chain expertise and with creating consumer demand. Through this, we can contribute to the Ethiopian government’s ambition to reduce malnutrition-related stunting to zero by 2030.”
Better use of the papaya harvest will secure an improved income for farmers. In addition, the partnership project will develop a toolkit for training food processing workers and facilitate the creation of new jobs in Ethiopia’s food industry.
Other local partners in the project include three Ethiopian food producers—Theday Agro Industry, Africa Juice Tibila and Raya Horti Farm—and the agricultural engineering enterprise Selam TRIAE. The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) is working with Ethiopian business associations to establish the enabling environment for the business model.
“It’s a co-creation approach to innovation that draws on the expertise and experience of many partners. In four years’ time, we aim to have the entire value chain in place for a nutritious, affordable and commercially viable dried fruit snack that makes the best use of an abundant local crop,” said Charlotte Sørensen.
The project is supported by funding from the Danida Market Development Partnerships program.