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Synercore and SACCO Systems disrupt the maas sector

Developed by some clever local and Italian food scientists – here’s news of Yangumasi, a brilliant solution to several African food issues: the easy preservation of milk, reduction of food waste and adding cost savings and convenience to a highly nutritious and affordable food/drink.

YanguMasi is a maas processing aid – a convenient way for consumers to make their own product, on a favourably comparable but cheaper basis than the current RTE maas available on the market.

So what exactly is maas or amasi in the vernacular? It’s the traditional fermented milk drink of the indigenous people of Southern and East Africa. It is creamy white in colour, has a smooth texture, and is sour in taste.

Due to fermentation, amasi is nutrient dense and a good source of affordable, high quality protein with a longer shelf-life than fresh milk. It contains less lactose compared to fresh milk and is thus well tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant – to wit, a large percentage of black Africans.

Amasi is consumed in several ways: as a meal, a meat substitute where it is served with pap/maize porridge, and consumed as a beverage. It could be called a ‘Red Bull of Africa’, only a whole lot more nutritious and healthy!

YanguMasi has been a joint, two-year development by the Paarl-based Synercore group of food ingredients companies, with the support of SACCO Systems in Italy (its exclusive biotechnology culture partner) and Innovative Research Solutions (its local R&D partner). 

It is a mix of mesophilic cultures, probiotic culture and non-animal coagulant enzyme technology that supports fermentation and improves the texture of self-produced amasi. It allows for a more controlled fermentation, while the enzymes enhance the texture and mouthfeel by targeting amino acid cross-linking of milk proteins to yield a thick and creamy texture and mouthfeel .

The idea behind YanguMasi (“My Amasi” in Swahili), says Tertius Celliers, Synercore CEO, originated on his travels to Kenya.

‘We visited many subsistence dairy farmers who produce and distribute milk through the informal channels – which accounts for more than 80% of the total volume produced in Kenya!

“Furthermore, the fact that they do not have refrigeration means that as much as 40% of the milk is not consumed and wasted due to spoilage. 

“The idea then was to see how we could add value to these farmers’ milk, reducing waste and extending shelf-life, while improving the safety of the product consumed and adding unique nutritional benefits to promote health and wellbeing (ie probiotics with the lactic acid cultures).

Exciting market potential

According to Joalien Katerinic, Business Development Manager at Synercore “The market for maas/amasi is huge in Southern and East Africa, and this offers consumers many cost and convenience benefits.

“Really rewarding, though, is its scope for upliftment of subsistence or small-scale farmers to earn an income with YanguMasi sales, and to entice young urban consumers with a traditional African food that has a modern twist and appeal to it..”

YanguMasi is available in single-use sachets for two litres of milk, and is currently being sold online through Synercore’s ‘Innovation Shop’ and via several distributors who are taking it into the ‘informal market’ locally and in East Africa.

“To date we have supplied stock to a couple of NGOs/feeding schemes with excellent feedback, and have had similarly from many consumers who have used YanguMasi. It’s still early days in the rollout, and we are confident that success in Africa’s consumable goods business lies mainly at the so-called ‘bottom of the pyramid’,” according to Katerinic.

Cilliers conclude “We’re proud to offer this market some great innovation; something of real health, convenience, taste and economic value.”

For more information contact: Joalien Katerinic, T: +27 21 879 1681 C: +27 73 173 9106 E: joalien@synercore.co.za; www.synercore.co.za

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