WAUKEGAN, ILL. — Woodland Foods has partnered with African food brand Yolélé to distribute West African fonio products to food service operators and retailers under the Yolélé brand.
The agreement includes single ingredient fonio products and seasoned fonio blends. It also creates future opportunities for introducing other natural African ingredients to North American consumers, Woodland Foods said.
Fonio has been garnering much industry attention in recent years. Earlier this month, Terra Ingredients, L.L.C. announced it is making the grain available to North American food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers after establishing relationships with farms in the Sahel region of Africa and building a facility in Dakar, Senegal.
Fonio is gluten-free and contains three times the amount of fiber and four times the amount of protein as brown rice. Woodland Foods said the ancient African grain presents a number of possibilities for health-conscious and gluten-free market segments. It is rich in amino acids typically lacking in grain and has a low glycemic index.
Fonio also presents sustainable economy opportunity for African farmers. It is drought tolerant, can be harvested multiple times a year and produces a root system that helps fight soil erosion.
“Our sourcing capabilities are strengthened as we integrate our supply chain expertise with the knowledge of the Yolélé team, who are intimately familiar with the citizens and conditions of the region and who have established partnerships with various N.G.O.s, trade and government partners,” said Aram Karapetian, chief operating officer at Woodland Foods. “This partnership represents a direct investment in farming communities, allowing us to maintain product integrity while preserving the mission of the brand.”
The agreement will go into effect at the end of July.