The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people in the world—one in eight—are suffering from chronic undernourishment. And malnutrition affects 32.5 percent of children in developing countries. That’s where Plumpy’Nut comes in. The high-calorie mixture of peanuts, sugar, milk powder, whey, vitamins and minerals, soy oil and palm oil is specially designed to treat hunger in the most efficient way possible (similar to Soylent, the much buzzed-about “food substitute” that debuted earlier this year). It’s nutrient-rich, easily transportable, and does not need to be refrigerated or mixed water. Critics have pointed out that Plumpy’Nut, which is manufactured by a private French company, may be too expensive—it’s $60 to feed a child for two months, a large sum in the developing world.
But it does appear to be working. “A child with severe malnutrition presents either as skin and bones, with what they call baggy pants—when their skin sags on their bottoms—or all their limbs swell. They don’t have an appetite anymore, they don’t cry, they don’t move,” Heidi Reed, the communications manager of Edesia, one of the nonprofits in the PlumpyField Network, told Time. “The Plumpy’Nut physically changes them within a matter of days.” Edesia provides Plumpy’Nut—which has a 90 percent rehabilitation rate—to buyers like UNICEF, the World Food Program, USAID, Action Against Hunger and other organizations with nutrition programs. The majority of their products are sent and distributed to West Africa and Ethiopia.
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