Success Story — Miyonga Fresh Greens opening new markets using phy2app
Miyonga Fresh Greens was among the first Kenyan companies to use phy2app and make transparency a strategic decision for the direction of their business. This is the story of how they were able to leverage the power of phy2app transparency to open new market opportunities and improve the market position of their products and company.
Please give the readers some background about you and your company Miyonga?
Miyonga Fresh Greens was established in 2014 with the goals of supporting smallholder farmers in growing the right crops in a sustainable way, help them get certified, and provide them access to the international markets. We started as farmers with only 1.5 acres of land with no plan to export but soon we realized that to be sustainable, we needed to move from just farming, but run farming as a business. Our second motivation for growth was the number of women we were working with. Some had no education but we felt that, if we were successful as a business, we would give them an opportunity to earn an income which they could invest into the education of their children and thereby improve their quality of life.
When we expanded our product range and the range of smallholder farmers we were working with, we noticed that a lot of fruits grown would have gone to waste due to mainly cosmetic reasons. We noted that the “ugly fruit” and the perfect fruit all have the same nutritional value. A Lot of the ugly fruits were left at the farm. This was not only a waste of natural resources but also lost potential income and lost opportunity for improving the lives of the farmers we worked with. Drying the fruits enabled us to not only reduce waste and preserve the products to increase their shelf life but also added value to the products.
You are an agribusiness producing and exporting fresh and dried fruits producer, herbs, and vegetables. Can you please explain exactly what products you sell and what makes your products special?
Vegetables that we sell include French beans, snow peas, sugar snaps, and in terms of fresh fruits avocados, and passion fruit to Europe, and pineapple, bananas, and mangoes to the Middle East. The fruits that we also process and sell as dried fruits and powders include mango, banana, pineapple, coconut, jackfruit, and papaya, but the most we sell is dried mango. The taste of the dried mango and pineapple in Kenya is just amazing.
You sell your products both in bulk and in small consumer packages. What is the rationale behind this decision?
It’s all about the different routes to market for our products. To make sure we sell as much of the product grown by the farmers we work with, we needed to establish multiple channels and not only rely on one. We started selling bulk as many international buyers are interested in bulk and packaging the product under their own private label. This is a big market opportunity. From there we expanded our offering as some European buyers we work with, also wanted us to package the bulk product they buy from us under their own private label at our facilities in Kenya.
For the local market, we sell small packages of dried fruits to consumers as snacks. People are loyal to brands they like and it is a good avenue for us to establish a consistent market for our products. The local Kenyan marker is not to be underestimated!
The most interesting thing, however, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakdown of the value chains, we partnered with a company in Germany and are selling our products in consumer packages also in German retail.
Your products are grown by smallholder farmers across Kenya. How many farmers do you work with? How do you make sure you get consistently high quality? Do you offer training and inputs to the farmers?
Currently, we work with about 2,400 farmers in the categories of mango, coconut, banana, pineapple, and in the wider network for fruits and vegetables, we work with over 5,000 farmers. These farmers usually have about 1 to 2 acres of land for their own subsistence farming as well as for commercial farming. We organize the smallholder farmers into groups. This allows us to use this group setting for better training and keep the overall organization of the operations. The farmers are all trained according to the same training manuals to ensure consistency. We also invest in field officers to help keep monitoring the quality and farming processes.
How are your products processed? How do you make sure to keep the natural qualities of your products?
We work with each individual buyer in order to adjust the processing to their product specification. This way we can offer the exact product the buyer wants. Buyer may specify the taste profiles, the sizes of the fruit, the moisture content, the use of preservatives, or keeping the product as natural and organic as possible. These requirements then guide the processing. For example, we determine the level of fruit ripens needed for the processing and the temperatures we dry the fruits at. After the fruit is dried, we package it according to the requirements of the buyer, either in bulk or small consumer packages.
Your company has a very positive impact on the farming communicates you work with. Can you please explain the impacts and how you achieve them?
We provide access to international markets for smallholder farmers that would have never been able to do it themselves. Farmers are able to earn money to not only sustain their families but so that they can also invest in the future. With the money they get from us for their products, they can help put their children through school and invest in their farming practices to improve their yields and quality. This is also supported by our training initiatives that help improve the farming practices and know-how for these communities.
Before phy2app, have you implemented any transparency in your company?
We have had all the information that the market wants but we did not have any way to communicate it. Even though we wanted to be transparent and show the market all of our compliance and product story, we were not able to do so. The information we are sharing is something that matters to both the international buyers looking to buy bulk but also to conscious consumers. The information that the two want is a bit different, but both want to know more about the products and our positive social impacts.
How has phy2app helped you understand what transparency is and what is critical transparency information that you should disclose?
Phy2app has helped us communicate the information we already had to the market. It has enabled us to benefit from all the information we had. It guided us to prepare the information market we wanted to see and then also enabled us to reach the people interested in the information with it. Phy2app really addresses the needs of the agribusinesses in communication.
Are there any big achievements that you are proud of, where phy2app played a critical role?
Absolutely! Phy2app was a game-changer for us. It became a great sales and negotiation tool for us. It gives the buyers confidence in the company and the products and this helped us get multiple new clients. When buyers have confidence in your products and your company it is like being 10 steps ahead of everyone else. Whenever we talk with potential buyers and we bring up phy2app and the information we share with it, the conversation switches to the higher gear and the discussion goes to the next level. Ultimately, we are in the business of finding a market for the products grown by the smallholder farmers we work with, and phy2app successfully helps us to do so.
How was the process of implementing the phy2app transparency communication tool?
Implementing phy2app was quick and simple to do. Even though it is a sort of “do it yourself” tool, there is training, and support offered that helped us when we got stuck. It was an efficient process, where we did not lose time and were able to get to the point of enjoying the benefits quickly. Since we set it up for our products, we didn’t have to spend much time on making sure it works properly and we know that when we expand our product range, we can quickly setup phy2app for that product as well.
Would you recommend other agribusinesses and brands to add transparency to their agenda?
Absolutely! It is something that I recommend because it truly works. For me, it is a real story. It is a tool that helped us greatly and I honestly do believe that it can do so for many other companies in this space.
If you are interested to learn more about phy2app and how your agribusiness can enjoy all the same benefits as Miyonga Fresh Greens, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will schedule a Zoom call to present the tool and benefits you can enjoy with it.