From QuadCityTimes. Story by Doug Schorpp.
Amadou Hanne and Ibrahima Bah have a contract with farmers in Senegal to grow hibiscus flowers.
They go through a co-op in Senegal that contracts with about 200 farmers to purchase the flowers. They are harvested and ground into a powder there and, eventually, made into a juice drink that is a staple in many African households.
The powder is shipped to the U.S. where the beverage is manufactured, bottled and shipped to a warehouse in Colona, Illinois. From there, it is distributed to sales outlets in the Quad Cities are of the U.S. as HiFit Juice.
Quad Cities is a region of four counties in the U.S. states of Northwest Illinois and Southeastern Iowa. The urban core consists of five cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois.
“Our product is formulated with natural hibiscus and fresh fruit juices. We spent about two years working on the formulation and the packaging,” said Hanne, who is 25.
The partners started producing the product in December 2014 and started selling online and in stores Jan. 1, 2015. The product is available in about 18 stores in four U.S. states, including Quad-City Food Hub, Greatest Grains and Hy-Vees in the Quad-Cities.
Bah said the juice product is a substitute for carbonated soft drinks for many African families.
“I have been drinking this juice since I remember,” he said. “My parents here tried to make it weekly. Even here, Africans tend to make it here, instead of pop. It is one of the main drinks made at home.”
Bah said his parents, like Hanne’s, continued to make the juice after settling in the Quad-Cities. His parents had sent away to New York for the ingredients until production of HiFit Juice began.
“Our next goal is to get to the Chicago market for the summertime, and to increase sales online.
“Our market is not really the African community, but to introduce to the others in the community who do not know about it. The drink has been around for many generations. Many who drink hibisucs tea have some familiarity with hibiscus and will try the hibiscus drink cold.”
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