Jackfruit is a fruit on the rise. It is a popular plant based ingredient for vegetarian, vegan and blended meat products and is used as meat substitute due to its meaty texture. Dutch impact driven startup Fiber Foods developed a jackfruit value chain, selling dehydrated, young jackfruit products grown in Uganda to the food producing industry in the Netherlands and Europe. A Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) start-up loan of €405,000,- through Invest International is used for a new jackfruit processing facility to anticipate growing market demand and further cater for specific off-taker requirements for the development of plant-based solutions.
The relationship between Invest International with Fiber Foods started a few years ago. At the start the company received pre-financing through the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) for their first shipment of three containers to the Netherlands, giving a boost to the use of their ingredients by the Dutch food industry. The company also used pre-investment support subsidy for developing an ideal production line for a factory dedicated to processing jackfruits to the specific requirements of their off takers. The new startup loan is used for the next steps in the growth path of Fiber Foods.
Fiber Foods is a women-led business. Both Dutch founders are women. Also, the employees of the facility will mostly be women.
© Photo’s: Fiber Foods.
Jackfruit once was a non-commercial crop used as nutritious cover crops and additional snack for children. Now it is discovered as a plant based ingredient for food use, for example by the meat (replacement) industry. Fiber Foods delivers to big-brand food producers, distributors, and small-brand food producers.
Fiber Foods has made great progress in Uganda, developing a local value chain for jackfruit, while also establishing sales channels in The Netherlands. They are creating jobs, created a new value chain with a previously non-commercial crop, provide additional income for smallholder farmers, and were able to dehydrate and process the jackfruit to the off taker requirements in The Netherlands.
© Photo’s: Fiber Foods.
Fiber Foods is a women-led business. Both Dutch founders are women. Also, the employees of the facility will mostly be women. There are many women in the area without a stable job that are working at Fiber Foods under fair circumstances. There also is daycare for children and women have access to training and there will be women in coordinating roles.
Indirect jobs will be created through transportation and construction of the facility. Fiber Foods is committed to pay a living wage and will perform a living wage study for the new facility. By processing the jackfruit at regional hubs, jobs are created and value added benefitting the Ugandan economy. The farmers get paid a fair price for their crops.Read more on our view on impact
Erik Pentinga, Investment Manager at Invest International for Fiber Foods: “Fiber Foods is a Dutch start-up company with activities in Uganda. These two elements make that traditional financiers are more reluctant to finance. Fiber Foods has made great progress in Uganda, developing a local value chain for jackfruit, while also establishing sales channels in The Netherlands. They are creating jobs, created a new value chain with a previously non-commercial crop, provide additional income for smallholder farmers, and were able to dehydrate and process the jackfruit to the off taker requirements in The Netherlands. Given the impact in both Uganda and The Netherlands, and the contribution to the protein transition, this transaction is a perfect match for the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) and Invest International.”Read more on DGGF
The company is led by co-founders Inez van Oord and Ineke Aquarius and CEO Michiel Swank. Both co-founders have been living for several years in Uganda and initiated Business Lab Uganda (BLU), a trade support organization focused on developing market-demand-driven, planet-and-gender fair value chains in Africa. BLU was financially supported by the Dutch Embassy in Kampala which led to the development of a value chain for jackfruit and dried jackfruit products for the food industry.
Day-to-day operations will be supervised by David Wright, founder, owner and managing director of joint venture partner Enimiro Products Uganda Ltd. and executed by a local management team of 4 skilled persons. The end product is shipped in bulk in a container to The Netherlands.Read more on Fiber Foods