The opportunity lies in fufu, a traditional cassava and maize flour dish that is widely consumed every day.
Through the addition of 10% dairy ingredients, Arla Food Ingredients says fufu could become a daily source of milk protein and minerals. At an estimated extra cost of $7.50 per tonne, the increase in the kilo price of fufu is minimal, according to the Danish company.
High malnutrition rate
According to the World Food Programme, in 2014, 23% of children in DR Congo under the age of five, and 14% of women, were underweight. Almost 50% of the under-fives were stunted, and more than half a million pregnant or breastfeeding women suffered from acute malnutrition.
To investigate the potential to improve this situation using dairy ingredients, Arla Foods Ingredients conducted interviews with 30 consumers living in the DR Congo capital, Kinshasa, earlier this year. This revealed that an average household includes four children and spends $6 a day on food.
All but one of the people interviewed stated they consume fufu at least once a day. The exception was a woman who prepared fufu for her family but did not eat it herself.
Man Kasiama Ebaba, who conducted the study for Arla Foods Ingredients, said fufu is part of the staple diet in many African countries.
“People know fufu is not very nutritious but it keeps them from going hungry,” he said.
Protein and mineral enrichment
Application trials in the Arla Foods Ingredients laboratory have shown the addition of skimmed milk powder and whey permeate can enrich the protein and mineral content of fufu without altering the overall taste and texture.
“The taste is slightly sweeter but, in our small-scale tests with people who eat fufu regularly, likeability was high,” Kasiama Ebaba said.
During his trip to DR Congo, Ebaba approached several companies to gauge local interest in producing nutritionally-enriched fufu. These discussions are ongoing.
Models for responsible business
Prior to the DR Congo study, Arla Foods Ingredients conducted a similar investigation of affordable food opportunities in Bangladesh.
Arla Foods Ingredients is a member of the GAIN Nordic Partnership, which aims to develop affordable and nutritious foods in partnership with local manufacturers.