Small and Medium size businesses in agro processing have been advised to focus on products such as Hibiscus that have a competitive advantage because of their health benefits to an increasingly sedentary population. Speaking at the launch of Hibiscus Tea Bags processed by Rena Industries, the Principal of Makerere Business School Prof. Wasswa Balunywa said that the local agro processing industry can play a vital role in supplementing the dietary health requirements of the population.
“There are many traditional plants that are known to have curative properties and these can be repackaged and certified to supplement our dietary requirements” he said.
He commended Rena Industries for working tirelessly to add value to Hibiscus and urged other SME’s to follow suit by focusing on other health products. The hibiscus tea bags contain vitamins, iron, and are loaded with antioxidants among others health benefits. Regina Nakayenga, founder and managing director at RENA Beverage Solutions said during the launch recently that the product has been packaged in a modern and high-quality form to ensure that it delivers all the health benefits associated with hibiscus.
“The ingredients in these tea bags have the capacity to lessen the body pains that people experience for various reasons. For example, females who get hot flushes during menstruation, blood pressure, hip, and joint pains after exercises, bowel constipation, and many more” Nakayenga said.
She said the new products target young adult professionals and corporates who are becoming increasingly health conscious and striving to combat lifestyle diseases that are on the increase. A pack that contains 60 pieces retails for Shs25, 000.
“The success of the hibiscus-based products is due to the growing demand for health and wellness goods in Uganda and the world which has necessitated us to distribute the products in schools, corporate offices, hospitals, clinics, health clubs, pharmacies, supermarkets, workshops, hotels, restaurants, gyms, and even bars,” Nakayenga said.
Nakayenga said the increased consumption of hibiscus products has consequently increased the number of farmers supplying the raw product to processors and RENA Beverage alone has mobilized over 400 framers in Tororo, Pallisa, Arua, Luwero, Nakaseke, Noya, Gulu, and Kasese.
“We are working with farmers in these regions both to increase acreage and also to train them in post-harvest handling of hibiscus so that we can maintain quality and consistency in supply. In the next five years, we expect to have over 10,000 farmers involved in growing hibiscus,” she added.
Dr. Maggie Kigozi, the former executive director at the Uganda Investment Authority, said RENA is among the top most innovative companies trying new products to meet the market needs. She said to have personally used hibiscus products to nourish her body.
“I have used the powder Hibiscus to make juice and it has been a smooth journey with them. I urge Ugandans to try the RENA hibiscus tea bags because they will be of great help health wise. I encourage women and men to be entrepreneurial and innovative and then be successful just like Nakayenga,” she said.
Professor William Kyomuhangire, Manager of the Food Technology and Business Incubation Center at Makerere University, said hibiscus is a traditional product that has been approved by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and is now available for all markets.
“This healthy product is not medicine but is used in daily life to prevent these non- communicable diseases. I urge Ugandans to emulate such products getting them from the kitchen to markets so as to create value addition in the society,” he said.
RENA Beverage Solutions processes a number of hibiscus-based products such as Ready-to-Drink Juice, Concentrate, Wine, Seed Snacks, and Seed Coffee. Other herbal products include Okra Coffee, Mpirivuma Coffee, and Rosemary Powder, among others.
About RENA Beverage Solutions
RENA Beverage Solutions started operating in 2010. It has produced hibiscus-based products now in the Ugandan market including hibiscus juice, hibiscus powder, and hibiscus wine among others. On the market, RENA Products are in hyper Canteens, Supermarkets, Retail shops, Groceries, and Pharmacies situated in Kampala, Mukono, Entebbe, Wakiso, Jinja, Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Nebbi.
They are also served in hotels, guest houses, and restaurants, at gyms, sports and games, weddings, birthday parties, workshops, and other events.