Everything has been created in our kitchen at Baobab Fare. The first batch of Pili. The first batch of Ji. The first for everything happens within our space. But we’ve slowly outgrown our kitchen space and we’re selling so much Ji and Pili that making small batches in the way we are simply isn’t possible anymore.
We began our search for co-packagers in Detroit. And let us tell you, we were shocked to realize that the city, and the state, are unable to provide a co-packager for our non-alcoholic products. There are a lot of reasons many alcoholic beverage co-packagers wouldn’t touch Ji. Trust us, we asked and tried to facilitate collaborations of any sort.
So we went outside of the city and asked across the state. We worked with friends who are making non-alcoholic beverages. Handled many introductions and tried our best to make it happen within the limits of this amazing state. But unfortunately, the repackaging infrastructure isn’t here yet.
We were invited to experience Rochester through a connection at Motor City Match and that turned into many conversations. What could co-packaging look like for us? What would that do to the quality of our products? Rochester pushed Baobab Fare in ways we never dreamed possible and allowed us to create Soko — a retail brand for high-quality East African products that shipped nationwide.
It’s in Rochester that we were introduced to Lanovara Food Distributors. They have treated Baobab Fare, our products, and our growth with the utmost care and respect. We’ve been a part of every step of the development process, down to every single taste test before the batch is made. We’re so grateful for our partnership and friendship with Bert and Kim.
We’ve worked through processes on how to scale a batch, how to make it shelf stable, and keep it the quality you’ve come to expect. Detroit will always be home. But in order for us to grow, create more opportunities for our amazing staff, and provide what our community wants — we had to learn from those who have the knowledge. And together, we’re introducing more of East Africa to the market!