Could your peanuts one day be used to save the life
of a child?
The fact that peanut butter is a healthy and delicious food has been known for more than a hundred years now. The fact that a peanut-based paste could literally bring children from the brink of death back to complete health is only a few years old.
Given today’s information-in-a-milli-second-based society, you would think that every international aid organization would be clamoring to get as many peanuts as possible to put into this peanut paste to save as many lives as possible. But it’s those things that would seem simple that never are.
The first many people in the U.S. peanut industry learned about peanuts being used in food aid was on the television program “60 Minutes,” in which a product called Plumpy’ nut was profiled.
A brand-named product owned by the French company, Nutriset, it was developed by a nutritionist specializing in feeding the poor. It is a gooey paste made with dried milk powder, peanut butter, vegetable oil, sugar and a vitamin mix.
Many Reasons Why It Works
Some of the reasons it has been so successful is that it does not have to be refrigerated, does not have to be mixed with fresh water, which is often a problem in these regions, and kids love the taste of the sweet peanut butter, which means they will readily eat it.
Plumpy’ nut manufactured in Europe is not made with USA peanuts at this time. In Africa, local peanuts, which are often high in aflatoxin and can be especially dangerous for people with compromised immune systems, are used.
Parting The Red Tape
Before being on this “approved” list, peanut butter could not have been bought by the U.S. government for food aid. Now, international aid organizations may request peanut butter as part of their “plan,” a request process similar to the National School Lunch Program, where, after receiving requests for peanut butter, USDA puts out “bids” to purchase the product from U.S. producers and then donates it to the recipient agency. This is a taxpayer-funded initiative of the U.S. government, and producers or manufacturers who make winning bids are paid market price for their products.
Now The Sales Pitch
Soon, a small amount of Plumpy’nut will be made with USA peanut butter.
In addition, APC is aggressively working with some of the larger aid groups, such as UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders, to explore the possibility of producing peanut-based RUTFs in the United States or ramping up local production in Africa and increasing the utilization of USDA/USAID peanut butter.
The APC has also been cooperating with scientists at the University of Georgia’s Peanut Collaborative Research Support Program to assist with this process, utilizing their scientific expertise to assist African manufacturers.
Last December, APC asked the industry to donate extra funds through the Peanut Foundation to assist in this work. Funds from APC’s export promotion program are also used, but are restricted to certain uses. The industry has already agreed to donate $15,000 to $20,000.
Why Is This Project Important?
Information provided by the American Peanut Council and The Peanut Foundation. For more information about this project, contact Stephanie Grunenfelder by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-838-9500 .
Peanut Grinder Donated By U.S. Sheller
More recent news coverage in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times recognized the success of Project Peanut Butter in Malawi, a small scale manufacturer of the therapeutic food “Plumpy’ nut.”
However, one hindrance to increasing production, in light of the great need for this life-saving product, was the lack of a peanut grinder in the small factory. Volunteer staff traveled a long distance to another factory to buy tons of peanut paste and haul it back to the Project Peanut Butter factory.
Upon learning this, Birdsong Peanuts, in Suffolk, Va., agreed to donate a grinder to the factory in Malawi, which will greatly increase both efficiencies and production.
Project Peanut Butter was established by Dr. Mark Manary of The Washington University in St. Louis. The APC is supporting his efforts by encouraging USDA to buy peanut butter under the PL 480 Food For Peace program that purchases U.S. farm commodities for international food aid.