Like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Then you’d love Nourimanba, says Abbott Nutrition’s Dan Schmitz. “If you take chocolate and dip it in Nourimanba, it tastes exactly like a Reese’s,” he says.
But you won’t find Nourimanba on your grocer’s shelves. It’s a high-calorie (500 of them in 2.5 tablespoons) ready-to-use therapeutic food made of peanut butter, milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar and a vitamin/mineral mix. Developed by Boston-based Partners In Health (PIH) to treat the childhood malnutrition endemic in Haiti, Nourimanba can rehabilitate a severely malnourished child in less than two months.
Columbus-based Abbott Nutrition has donated the services of 15 workers, including food scientists, food engineers, chemists and microbiologists, to help create and operate an 18,000-square-foot Nourimanba production plant due to open in Cange, Haiti, later this year. The plant, a $6.5 million partnership between PIH and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories, will initially increase production levels from 50 tons a year to 500.
Nourimanba (whose name combines elements of “nourish” and the Haitian word for peanut butter) is now made largely by hand in small quantities that collectively help 10,000 children. “We want to be able to bring that up to at least 50,000,” says Schmitz, Abbott Nutrition’s director of research and development.
The plant will not only speed production of the product, but also provide jobs for Haitians. “The linkage between malnutrition and poverty is one and the same, essentially. So not only are you providing the malnutrition support, but by driving that economy, creating jobs, buying materials from local vendors, you’re probably going to have fewer children that are going to need the malnutrition support,” says Schmitz.
As that happens, the plant will have the capacity to switch over to producing other nonmedical foods. “From our standpoint, when you start going from less Nourimanba to more of the general nourishment product, that’s a really good sign,” Schmitz says.
Reprinted from the May 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.