The birth of an idea: How cashew juice came to Germany from Benin

Die Geburt einer Idee: Wie der Cashewsaft aus Benin nach Deutschland kam
It all started in 2021 when I once again held a can of cashews in my hand. Because I eat these kernels so often, my daughter said to me, "Dad, you're addicted to cashews." But I'm not the only one - cashews are becoming increasingly popular. They serve as a snack or are used to make other derivative products such as cashew milk or cashew nut butter.

As a native of Benin, who knew and ate the cashew fruit, also known as the cashew apple, since childhood, I asked myself the question: What actually happens to the cashew fruit after the kernel is removed?

My research showed that the fruits are simply thrown away. Not because they are inedible, but because they spoil quickly and therefore cannot be exported. However, there is a lack of local facilities and infrastructure to process the fruit. In addition, many Western food companies are hesitant to set up production facilities in Africa.

For these reasons, cashew fruits are largely unknown in this country and unfortunately end up in the trash year after year.

We no longer want to accept this waste of valuable and nutritious food and actively do something about it.

We received the first positive feedback through our successful crowdfunding campaign on the Startnext platform. Many supporters would like to try the refreshing juice made from cashew apples.

This positive start enabled us to produce the cashew juice locally in Benin and import it to Germany for the first time.

The idea of ​​giving cashew apples added value not only excites consumers, but also the TV channel VOX's program " The Lion's Den ", which recognized the potential of our idea for processing cashew apples into cashew juice. They invited us to take part in the casting.

Even though we couldn't close a deal there, our appearance on the show "The Lion's Den" was a great success for the entire Akoua team and me. Our online shop sold out within a few hours.

Through a large number of interviews in various newspapers, both in digital and printed form, it becomes clear what a wide reach our participation in "The Lion's Den" has opened up for us. Here you can find some examples at the following links:

Of the 25 nominated startups in the Food Innovation category, our company Akoua reached the top spot and won the 2023 Founder of the Year award from Grü

All of this shows that the market is enthusiastically embracing our mission of cashew apples, sustainability and social change both in Benin, my home country, and in Germany.

Together we have the opportunity to shape the future of nutrition in a sustainable way and at the same time improve the living situation of many women on the cashew plantations in Benin.

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