History and values
Founded in 1986 by food processing engineer Michel Lescanne, Nutriset was the first company to develop therapeutic milks for the treatment of malnutrition and is best known for developing Plumpy’Nut®, the first peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) – a life-threatening form of hunger that now affects nearly 20 million children under the age of five around the world.
Before Plumpy’Nut®, severely malnourished children had to be hospitalized for treatment under medical supervision. Now, this product makes it possible for children and adults with SAM to receive home-based, medically supervised treatment using a convenient and portable peanut-based RUTF that requires no water, preparation or refrigeration and doesn’t spoil. Plumpy’nut® has also undergone extensive study around the world and its special formula has been shown to be very effective as a treatment for nutritional rehabilitation.
Based on the success of using RUTF to treat large numbers of severely malnourished children without medical complications, the World Health Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition and UNICEF issued a statement in June of 2007 jointly endorsing RUTF as the new standard for the treatment of severely malnourished children worldwide.
Not content to rest on its successes, Nutriset continues to invest in research and development towards improving and adapting products to meet emergency conditions. This includes working with the World Health Organization to develop ZinCfant®, zinc sulfate tablets used in combination with rehydration solutions for treatment of acute diarrhea – now the second leading cause of death in children under age five.
Other products in Nutriset’s portfolio include: ReSoMal, an oral rehydration solution for SAM; Plumpy’Sup™, a food supplement for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition; Plumpy’Doz™, a nutritional supplement to reduce the incidence of acute malnutrition in young children ages six to 36 months; Nutributter®, a lipid-based nutrient supplement to promote growth and prevent malnutrition in children ages six to 24 months; and a number of other nutritional supplements to prevent and treat nutritional deficiencies.
Applying ethical and social principles to the development of new treatments for malnutrition, Nutriset invests the bulk of its annual profits in research and innovation and the support of research consortia. The company also regularly collaborates with United Nations agencies, governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations to reduce food insecurity and increase the nutritional autonomy of developing countries.
Responsibility: central to the Nutriset approach
As social responsibility is a core value of the company, all Nutriset’s operating capital comes from the Lescanne family. That makes it possible for us to invest most of our resources into research and distribution strategies that foster the concept of “nutritional autonomy” for developing nations – defined as “the ability of a state, a community or an individual to identify nutritional needs and to procure the nutrients needed by young children or other at-risk population groups through sustainable systems.”
Towards this end, Nutriset makes available an online Usage Agreement, allowing local non-governmental organizations and manufacturers in developing countries to use our patents to manufacture, market, and distribute the nutritional products that fall within the scope of Nutriset’s patents. The only cost to these organizations is a contribution of 1% of the sales from these products paid to the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), which co-owns these patents. Nutriset has chosen not to seek any form of compensation except these contractual commitments.
The other way we promote the nutritional autonomy of developing is through PlumpyField®, a network of private companies that act as franchisees to produce Plumpy’Nut®, Plumpy’Sup™, Plumpy’Doz™, Nutributter®, and other Nutriset products in their regions using locally grown ingredients and employing local citizens. As such, each network partner has complete autonomy to identify the nutritional needs of the region and procure local ingredients through sustainable systems. Nutriset’s role is to promote capacity building by providing network members with resources, technical assistance, training and links to major global buyers.
Currently, PlumpyField® includes 11 manufacturing partners that are collectively operating in Burkina Faso (Innofaso), the Dominican Republic (Vitaset), Ethiopia (Hilina Enriched Foods), Haiti (MFK), India (Nutrivita Foods), Madagascar (JB/Tanjaka Food), Niger (STA), Sudan (Samil), Tanzania (Power Foods Industries), the United States (Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions) and Uganda (Reco Industries).
In the United States, Nutriset played a critical role in the creation of Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, a non-profit organization based in Rhode Island that is the other member of the PlumpyField® Network. Now supplying Plumpy’Nut® and other Nutriset RUTF products to humanitarian organizations and USAID, Edesia also supports local producers of ready-to-use foods in the developing world and conducts research to increase the distribution systems and effectiveness of these products.
Due in part to the success of PlumpyField®, in 2010, Nutriset created the ZincField® network to bring together partners from the pharmaceutical industry to aid in the production and distribution of ZinCfant®, a Nutriset product used to fight diarrhea in infants and young children. The network currently has a partner in Tanzania (Zenufa Laboratories).
These production networks operating directly in developing countries have not only improved the response to nutritional emergencies, but have also made it easier to combat malnutrition outside emergency periods and contributed to sustainable economic development in these regions.