The new flour is made with 100% fonio – the smallest seed of the millet species – a 5,000 year old ancient grain that is indigenous to West Africa. It is Paleo friendly, gluten-free and non-GMO, with a nutty flavour and texture that is similar to rice flour. It also has a higher nutritional value, being rich in fibre, protein, amino acids, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.
Minnesota-based Terra – which claims to be the only company able to supply fonio at a significant volume and scale – sees the partnership with IYA Foods as another step in its mission to take the supergrain mainstream.
“We seek to partner up with dynamic, well-run food companies to introduce fonio to US households while still valuing the origins of the grain and promoting sustainable agriculture,” said Malick Diedhiou, commodity trader and fonio program manager for Terra Ingredients, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AgMotion.
“IYA Foods shares these objectives and works tirelessly to provide innovative, high-quality products to their customers."
Terra had initially planned to make fonio more accessible to consumers at the beginning of 2020, but the coronavirus put a damper on its plans.
The company – which has a presence on six continents – was about to open a state-of-the-art processing plant in Senegal in West Africa and a pasteurisation and quality control plant in North Dakota. Although food industry workers in Senegal were able to continue operating during the pandemic, the company decided to pause all work to get the plant operational out of an abundance of caution.
“We look forward to working with IYA Foods on making fonio more widely accessible to health-conscious consumers across the US," added Diedhiou.
Fonio flour is the first SKU of multiple co-branded products expected to come out of the collaboration. The duo are currently working together to incorporate fonio into all of IYA Food’s flours and baking mixes made from gluten-free African ingredients.
Toyin Kolawole, CEO and founder of IYA Foods, is excited to introduce a bit of her heritage to the US market.
“I tapped into my African heritage to find foods that provide great tasting nourishment to individuals looking for healthier options. Given Terra’s unmatched dedication to retaining the nutritional integrity of their ingredients, we are thrilled to partner and offer fonio to American consumers,” she said.
The flour is available on Amazon, while additional IYA Foods’ products can be purchased at Walmart and Mariano’s.