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Ardent Mills joins partners to help feed Africa

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Gill Hyslop

By Gill Hyslop+

24-Jan-2017

Ardent Mills has joined several other leading food companies to assist Partners in Food Solutions to feed Africa. Pic: ©iStock/ajansen
Ardent Mills has joined several other leading food companies to assist Partners in Food Solutions to feed Africa. Pic: ©iStock/ajansen

The US flour-milling and ingredients company has joined General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Buhler and The Hershey Company in assisting eight African countries to feed themselves.

Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050, putting an even bigger strain on dwindling food supplies.

Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a non-profit consortium of companies, is working to strengthen food security, improve nutrition and increase economic development across the continent.

Volunteers from the leading food companies are connecting with African businessmen to strengthen and increase the competitiveness of the continent’s food processing sector, which, believes PFS, will have a ripple effect filtering down to farmers and on to the consumer.

‘Serving is one of our core values’

Pic:©iStock/borgogniels

Bill Stoufer, COO of Ardent Mills told BakeryAndSnacks that corporate social responsibility is the heart of the company’s philosophy.

“We’re all about nourishing what's next in the communities where we live and work in North America. Now, we are choosing to make a positive difference internationally with small and growing food businesses in Africa.

“It is a focused effort with Partners in Food Solutions to strengthen Africa's ability to feed its growing population,” he told us.

He confirmed that Ardent Mills will serve as “both as a corporate sponsor and virtually connect subject matter experts from our team with flour millers and other African client businesses to help them solve challenges,” although he refused to disclose the company’s financial commitment to the project.

The Denver-headquartered flour miller – which has more than 40 flour mills and bakery-mix facilities in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico – has not, as yet, narrowed in on which of the eight African nations its efforts will affect.

However, it’s volunteers will provide intensive technical and business know-how to local communities through the initiative’s aggressive plan scheduled for the next few years.

Where it all began

Partners in Food Solutions began as an internal employee volunteer program at General Mills in 2008.

It was spun out as a nonprofit organization in 2011, with Cargill joining the effort along with the Dutch nutrition and pharmaceuticals company DSM, Swiss technology company Bühler, and The Hershey Company in 2015.

Today, the Minneapolis-based NGO has helped more than 700 food companies through training or consulting projects, and has gone from working in four countries in 2011 to eight in 2017.

Through its partnerships with companies like Ardent Mills, it’s 980 volunteers have contributed 75,000 hours of technical and business expertise to promising food processors, who, in turn, work with more than 890,000 smallholder farmers.

“We believe that supporting the development of a robust local food industry in Africa is at the heart of building stable and thriving communities,” said PFS’ CEO Jeff Dykstra.

Channelling the private sector’s capacity

“Africa is home to more than 1.2 billion people and that population is expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050. Harnessing the power of the private sector can have a significant impact on increasing food security across the continent for a rapidly growing population."

PFS also collaborates with TechnoServe, Root Capital, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“By joining hands with PFS, we are expanding our reach with these efforts on a truly international scale,” added Dan Dye, Ardent Mills’ CEO.

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