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Plumpy'Nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)
Nutritional value per 92 g
Energy 2,100 kJ (500 kcal)
Other constituents
Ingredients peanut paste, vegetable oil,
powdered milk, powdered sugar,
vitamins, minerals
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Plumpy'Nut is a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for treatment of severe acute malnutrition manufactured by a French company, Nutriset.[1][2] Removing the need for hospitalization, the 92 gram packets of this paste can be administered at home and allow larger numbers to be treated.[1]

Plumpy'Nut may be referred to in scientific literature as a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) alongside other RUTFs such as F-100, a solid form of therapeutic milk.[3]

Nutriset has come under criticism from Médecins Sans Frontières, et al. because it holds patents for Plumpy'nut.


Plumpy'Nut has a two-year shelf-life and requires no water, preparation, or refrigeration.[1] Its ease of use has made mass treatment of malnutrition in famine situations more efficient than in the past.[2][4] Severe acute malnutrition has traditionally been treated with therapeutic milk and required hospitalization.[5] Unlike milk, Plumpy'Nut can be administered at home and without medical supervision.[1] It also provides calories and essential nutrients that restore and maintain body weight and health in severely malnourished children more effectively than F100.[6]

The United Nations has recognized this utility, stating in 2007 that "new evidence suggests... that large numbers of children with severe acute malnutrition can be treated in their communities without being admitted to a health facility or a therapeutic feeding centre."[7] Plumpy'nut conforms to the UN definition of a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).[1][7]

Peanut allergies have not been found to be a problem in usage due to a lack of allergic reactions in the target populations.[8]


The ingredients in Plumpy'Nut include "peanut-based paste, with sugar, vegetable oil and skimmed milk powder, enriched with vitamins and minerals".[1] Plumpy'Nut is said to be "surprisingly tasty".[2]

Local production

While the majority of Plumpy'Nut was made in France as of 2010, this therapeutic food is easily produced[2] and can be made locally in peanut-growing areas by mixing peanut paste with a slurry of other ingredients provisioned by Nutriset.[9]

A number of partner companies and one non-profit organization in Rhode Island (USA) make Plumpy'Nut; six of the factories are in African countries (Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, Madagascar).[9]

Supply chain

Plumpy'Nut is distributed from the manufacturer to geographic areas of need through a complex supply chain. Forward information flows, such as projections of need, order processes, and payment information, and backward information flows, including stock monitoring, quality assurance, and performance data occur through information exchange vulnerable to errors or tardiness associated with supply chain fragmentation.[10][11] Factors affecting potential for loss of efficiencies in the supply chain are information flow on orders, basis of need, forecasts, flow upstream from field officers and country offices to parties controlling regional distribution and manufacturing by Nutriset, downstream flow of information on delivery times and order status.[10][11]

How it works

Plumpy’Nut is used as a treatment for emergency malnutrition cases. It supports rapid weight gain derived from broad nutrient intake which can alleviate a starving child from impending illness or death.[6] The product is easy for children to eat because it dispenses readily from a durable, tear-open package. The fortified peanut butter-like paste contains fats, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, proteins (as essential macronutrients), vitamins and minerals (as essential micronutrients). Peanut butter is also an excellent source of vitamin E and B vitamins.[12]


A complete two month regimen for a child cost US$60 c. 2010.[2]


Woman giving Plumpy'Nut nutritional aid to her children in Kenya.

Inspired by the popular Nutella spread, Plumpy'Nut was invented in 1996 by André Briend, a French paediatric nutritionist, and Michel Lescanne, a food-processing engineer.[1][2] Nutella is a hazelnut-based chocolate spread, composed of sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, lecithin, and vanillin. In contrast, Plumpy'Nut is a combination of peanut paste, vegetable oil and milk powder, without including chocolate, but containing sugar, vitamins and dietary minerals.

Skippy may have developed a similar product in the early 1960s, according to a former employee, although it was never released.[13]

Patent issues

Nutriset holds patents in many countries (including US patent 6346284 , published in 2002) for the production of nut-based, nutritional foods as pastes, which they have defended to prevent non-licensees in the United States from producing similar products.[4] In places where Nutriset does not hold a patent, manufacturers of similar pastes have been stopped from exporting their products to places where Plumpy'Nut is patented.[14] In at least 27 African nations, any non-profit (including NGOs) can make the paste and not pay a license fee.[15]

In 2010, two US non-profit organizations unsuccessfully sued the French company in an attempt to legally produce Plumpy'Nut in the US without paying the royalty fee.[4] Mike Mellace, president of one of the non-profits, claimed that “some children are dying because Nutriset prevents other companies from producing a food which could save their lives.”[16] Invalidation of the Nutriset patent may have a positive impact on populations affected by famine, and studies by humanitarian organizations support the idea that having a single, dominant supplier in Nutriset is undesirable.[17] Critics of Nutriset argue the US patent is “obvious in light of prior recipes” and “that the patent has essentially conferred monopoly power on Nutriset and thus violated the Sherman Act".[18] By definition, a patent grants a temporary monopoly, and Nutriset won the case. Some have suggested a similarity between pharmaceutical company compulsory licensing agreements, in place under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, and Plumpy'Nut.[18]

Following a threat of legal action against a Norwegian company that was exporting a similar product to Kenya, Nutriset was criticized by NGOs in some African countries to make the paste and not pay license fees.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Plumpy’Nut®: Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)". Nutriset. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rice, Andrew (2 September 2010). "The Peanut Solution".  
  3. ^ "BP-100™ RUTF Therapeutic food". Compact for Life. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Schofield, Hugh (8 April 2010). "Legal fight over Plumpy'nut, the hunger wonder-product". BBC. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Creek, T. L.; Kim, A; Lu, L; Bowen, A; Masunge, J; Arvelo, W; Smit, M; Mach, O; Legwaila, K; Motswere, C; Zaks, L; Finkbeiner, T; Povinelli, L; Maruping, M; Ngwaru, G; Tebele, G; Bopp, C; Puhr, N; Johnston, S. P.; Dasilva, A. J.; Bern, C; Beard, R. S.; Davis, M. K. (2010). "Hospitalization and mortality among primarily nonbreastfed children during a large outbreak of diarrhea and malnutrition in Botswana, 2006". JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 53 (1): 14–9.  
  6. ^ a b Diop el HI, Dossou NI, Ndour MM, Briend A, Wade S (August 2003). "Comparison of the efficacy of a solid ready-to-use food and a liquid, milk-based diet for the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children: a randomized trial". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78 (2): 302–7.  
  7. ^ a b Community-Based Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition. World Health Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition, The United Nations Children’s Fund. May 2007. p. 2.  
  8. ^ Klonick K (1 October 2006). "Peanut Paste Saves Starving African Children". ABC News. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "The PlumpyField network : how it works". Nutriset. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Swaminathan JK (2009). "UNICEF’s Plumpy'Nut supply chain". University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School, Center for Sustainable Enterprise. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Swaminathan J (13 October 2010). "Case study: Getting food to disaster victims". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Nutrition facts for peanut butter, smooth style, without salt, USDA Nutrient Database SR-21". Conde Nast. 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Krampner, Jon (2013). Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All-American Food. Columbia University Press. p. 218.  
  14. ^ "FOOD: Making peanut butter gets stickier". IRIN: humanitarian news and analysis. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Nutriset/IRD’s Patents Usage Agreement". Nutriset. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  16. ^ di Staff. "Plumpy'Nut goes to court". 
  17. ^ a b Lavelle, Janet (Jan 16, 2010). "Child malnutrition center of legal battle". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Bakhsh, Umar R. "The Plumpy’Nut predicament: is compulsory licensing a solution?". Chicago Kent Journal of Intellectual Property. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  19. ^ von Schoen-Angerer, Tido. "MSF: Nutriset patent impeding access to treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition". Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. ^ Team Praescient. "UNICEF’S Mission to End Hunger: Leveraging Analytic Methodologies to Advance Development Goals". Retrieved 4 May 2014. 

External links

  • Producer's site
  • John. Vidal. Food, famine & climate change: How we feed the world on 85p
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