Malnutrition in Yemen: Tetra Pak and HSA Group collaborate for school feeding program
26 May 2023 --- Tetra Pak has joined forces with one of Yemen’s largest private companies Hayel Saeed Anam (HSA) Group, to pilot the provision of fortified flavored milk in school feeding programs, helping respond to under- and malnutrition in the country.
“We are contributing to HSA Group’s school feeding initiative in Yemen with 10 million units of Tetra Brik Aseptic 125 packaging solution,” Niels Hougaard, managing director at Tetra Pak Arabia, tells PackagingInsights.
“Our aseptic technology ensures that milk remains safe and free from contamination, preserving its nutritional value. By offering safe packaging options, we contribute to bridging malnutrition by ensuring that nutritious products reach the children safely and reliably.”
The initiative will commence in September this year and seeks to support over 10,000 children across Yemeni schools. According to UNICEF’s annual Global Report on Food Crises released earlier this month, nearly 258 million people in 58 countries and territories were in crisis or acute food insecurity in 2022.
“In Yemen, significantly above-average prices of food and essential non-food commodities are expected to drive large food consumption gaps. Even though active fighting has abated in the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen, the impacts of conflict and mass displacement are expected to persist throughout 2023,” UNICEF details.
The partnership between Tetra Pak and HSA Group will leverage product development and manufacturing capabilities to develop innovative value chain-based affordable, nutritious products for children in schools throughout Yemen.
The initiative was announced at a joint food security workshop co-hosted by the HSA Group and the International Food Policy Research Institute, entitled “Rethinking food crisis responses: the power of partnership to build resilient food systems in Yemen.”
Feeding the future of the country
Putting safe nutrition at the forefront of the pilot, under the initiative’s scope, HSA Group will produce UHT milk fortified with micronutrients and vitamins based on local nutritional deficiencies.
By partnering with Tetra Pak, the companies seek to minimize the impact of transport delays common in Yemen due to damaged infrastructure. Hougaard details that the Tetra Brik Aseptic 125 packaging extends the shelf life of the contents without the need for refrigeration or preservatives, ensuring the freshness and nutritional value of the product for up to 12 months.
“We chose Tetra Brik Aseptic 125 packaging as our research showed it is the best option for children. It offers several benefits, making it an ideal choice for supplying schools,” he tells us.
“First, the packaging ensures the integrity and safety of the contents, protecting them from external factors that could compromise quality or cause contamination. The Tetra Brik Aseptic 125 is also easy to handle and consume, making it suitable for school environments. Its shape and size are designed to fit well within lunchboxes and backpacks.”
The initiative – Tetra Pak’s first school feeding program in Yemen – will be used to raise awareness about the importance of recycling. Children will be taught about the impact of waste on the environment and how waste can be managed sustainably.
“At Tetra Pak, we collaborate with schools, communities and organizations to develop educational programs that emphasize the importance of recycling and teach students how to recycle their packaging properly. This initiative aims to educate schools and pupils about safe nutrition and sustainable recycling,” says Hougaard.
Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam, managing director at HSA Group Yemen, says this “transformative” project aims to alleviate the burden of [food security, famine and stunted growth] challenges on young people in a period of life that is essential to intellectual and physical development.
“Yemen’s next generation faces an uncertain and challenging future. Feeding these children is a moral imperative and essential for Yemen’s future. Young people are disproportionately affected by Yemen’s ongoing food security crisis, while millions remain out of school.”
“The country cannot afford a lost generation where millions of children, even if they survive the famine, will grow up with their minds and bodies stunted because of lack of nutrients. We hope that, by working together with Tetra Pak, we will be able to support the health and well-being of Yemen’s young and ambitious population, nurturing talent and unlocking potential,” says Anam.
Hougaard adds that approximately 2.2 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition. The companies refer to UNICEF data to spotlight that, across Yemen, over 50% of children are experiencing irreversible stunted growth due to a lack of nutrition and growing food insecurity.
“By leveraging each sector’s unique strengths, we can make significant strides toward building resilient food systems in the country,” emphasizes Hougaard.
“Together with HSA Group, we are covering the nutrition needs of 10,000 Yemeni children for a school year while initiating an ecosystem that can take this initiative to the next step and make it a starting point of an even more impactful project that addresses food security in Yemen. We are already talking to partners and gauging their interest in joining this journey to drive this project further,” he concludes.
By Radhika Sikaria
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