Global Excellence Awards 2020

Page 44 LUX 2020 Global Excellence Awards Solar Foods is a Sudanese pioneer of the dried foods industry that produces a variety of organic dried fruits, vegetables and meats using highly automated industrial solar energy dryers. Using natural, sustainable resources, Solar Foods is adding value to Sudanese economic and agricultural practices and presenting solutions to some of the country’s greatest challenges, including food security, employment and income generation. Having started with the demographic most in need of nutrition, Solar Food is now spreading awareness of the need for healthy diets by supplying to local markets, wholesale suppliers, supermarkets and through its own online shop. Solar Foods has also penetrated regional markets in Oman, UAE and Qatar, as well as international markets, including the UK. Solar Foods’ story began in 1983, when Dr Salih Hamadto founded Solar Energy Enterprises Co. (SEEC), the first company in Sudan to deal exclusively in renewable energy. In 2015, his daughter, Dr Alaa Salih Hamadto, joined the family business to support her father, advancing his vision even further when she founded Solar Foods in 2017. Solar Foods was the culmination of the Salih Hamadto’s family history in solar Solar Foods is a sustainable start-up company that has pioneered the dried foods industry of Sudan, using highly automated industrial solar energy dryers to preserve food, minimising waste through eco-friendly methods. Distributing worldwide in recyclable packaging across the retail and wholesale markets, Solar Foods is a female-led business that is powered by empowered women. We take a closer look at this forward- thinking, family-run business that is leading a social and environmental revolution. Solar Foods Food Processing Innovators of the Year - MENA power coupled with Dr Alaa’s recognition of the time-consuming nature of preparing traditional Sudanese dishes that many Sudanese working women often found challenging to balance with family time and working life. Dr Alaa also found that preserving foods with a traditional drying method employed by Sudanese people for generations would prevent post-harvest losses and food wastage without consuming energy and costs, thus making it easier for these foods to be distributed to all those who needed it. Thus, Solar Foods pioneered the integration of traditional drying techniques with advanced solar powered technology, creating healthier communities, introducing food safety, boosting a vital asset of Sudanese economy, tackling serious social issues and giving working women the freedom to pursue careers they previously lacked the time for. Unlike drying with heat, canning or freezing, solar drying requires minimal energy, is environmentally friendly and retains all of the products natural nutrients and flavours, making Solar Foods products a premier choice regionally, nationally, and internationally. Solar Foods uses automatic devices to regulate the drying temperature and humidity to dry high-quality produce in controlled environments. These devices can be used in situ or manoeuvred to be set up in production areas with fewer resources and include smaller food dryers to full solar community kitchens that were created by SEEC. Crucially, all of the devices are solar-powered, magnifying the earth’s greatest natural resource to have the smallest possible impact on the planet. To that end, Solar Foods is continually exploring how it can enhance its contribution to a zero-waste circular economy. At the moment, these efforts are centred around the development of a system to utilise its by-products and waste as biofertilizers. Having been created for the needs of women, Solar Foods remains a female-centric business that empowers its predominantly female workforce economically, socially and educationally. The team receives regular training and have access to programmes and qualifications through Solar Foods, which believes that the key to spreading its message and achieving its vision is through educating and promoting women of all circumstances. The result is an internal culture of women who have the means to be financially independent, whilst working towards a greener future. Sudan has faced its fair share of challenges over the last few years, politically, socially and economically. The agricultural industry has been hit hard throughout, with issues being compounded by the ongoing pandemic and delayed rain seasons which have caused low production yields. Solar Foods’ entrepreneurial solution is therefore seeing demand increase at an exponential rate. As Solar Foods continues to lead the way in exporting Sudan’s rich food resources to the world as a trusted supplier of organic dried foods, it is also focusing its efforts on boosting the economy and working culture in Sudan too. The firm hopes to duplicate its operating model in rural areas, taking manufacturing closer to its production sites. In doing so, Solar Foods will be contributing to the development of those rural areas, decreasing logistical costs and creating opportunities for even more women – all whilst working towards a brighter, more sustainable future for us all. Company: Solar Foods Contact: Alaa Salih Hamadto Website: