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Local Production of Processed complementary food: World Food Programme experience

Summary of published review

Blended food is often used in supplementary feeding programmes. Fango, Ethiopia, 2000. Pieternella Pieterse (Concern)

Pieter Dijkhuizen has been a senior programme adviser in public health and nutrition at WFP headquarters in Rome for a number of years. He has recently published a review article1 on WFP's involvement in the production of complementary foods. A summary of the main findings of the review follows.

WFP distributes approximately 125,000 metric tons of processed complementary foods or blended foods per year. This kind of food is used in maternal and child health centres, school feeding, and in refugee and emergency projects. These foods include corn soya blend as well as locally produced brands such as Unimix, Indiamix and Lakuni Phala. Initially, the US agency for International Development (USAID) was the sole source of blended foods. Currently USAID provides half and local manufacturers provide the other half of all the blended foods used in WFP programmes and projects. Local manufacturers use local ingredients with the exception of the vitamin and mineral pre-mixes which are purchased from the international suppliers. WFP provides these local manufacturers with the product specifications and the processing instructions which are consistent with those in the Codex Alimentarius. WFP allows local producers a 10% profit.

Efforts to involve local manufacturers started with small-scale community based projects. But the resulting small scale production was not large enough to permit the necessary economies of scale. There have also been problems of quality control and finding and maintaining qualified managers. Since 1991, WFP has shifted its focus to work with private sector companies in a number of countries including, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India and Kenya. Each company produces in excess of 2000 metric tons per year. WFP regulations require that foods produced locally be compatible and comparable with substitutes such as corn soya blend, which can be produced in the US and imported into a given country for less than 500 dollars per metric ton. The approach taken in developing local processing capability starts by assessing potential processing capacity. Companies are selected through a process of public tender, which includes price agreements. WFP provides training and technical assistance to ensure that foods meet all product specifications. In instances where it is determined that inadequate processing capacity exists, WFP leases the necessary equipment to a private sector company and provides training as well as technical assistance. Repayment for the leased equipment is made as foods are produced and sold to WFP. This approach has proven feasible in situations where no local capacity exists since it requires no investment and risk-taking on the part of the producer and thus guarantees that WFP can negotiate a very low price for the food.

On average the foods cost US$360 per metric ton, with 70% of the cost going towards the purchase of raw materials. The remaining costs include interest and the profit margin allowed to local producers. In this way WFP is able to support the production of processed complementary foods at costs around 15-20 times less than those of brands on the commercial market.

WFP considers that it has had a very successful experience working with the private sector.

Show footnotes

1Dijkhuizen. P (2000): Processed complementary foods in the World Food Programme. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol 21, no 1 pp 62-64

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Local Production of Processed complementary food: World Food Programme experience. Field Exchange 11, December 2000. p4. www.ennonline.net/fex/11/local

(ENN_3455)

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