Guardian Examines Efforts To Bring Therapeutic Food Production Into Developing Countries

The Guardian examines how ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) — “small packets of a sticky, peanut butter-like paste, fortified with minerals and vitamins, that can reverse severe malnutrition within six weeks” — “have revolutionized famine relief in Africa,” and asks whether these products could be produced in the countries in which they are being distributed. “The vast majority of RUTFs are produced in the U.S. or Europe, bought by aid agencies such as UNICEF, and transported great distances to reach those in need,” the newspaper writes, adding, “But a small group of social enterprises is questioning this business model, redesigning it with a more local footprint in mind.”

“In 2010, UNICEF certified facilities in nine developing countries, each capable of producing 40,000 megatons of RUTFs,” the newspaper writes, profiling several efforts to produce RUTFs, or at least components of them, in developing nations. However, the Guardian writes that “in September, [USAID] announced, along with the American Peanut Council, that a trio of U.S. companies … would between them produce $4.4 million of RUTFs for East Africa,” a move that “could mean continued western dominance” (Chhabra, 12/20).