Safe Nutrition for Children in Peru

Key Account Director and Sales Office Manager Klaus Plenge of Tetra Pak Peru is working to support and strengthen the country’s school feeding programme, which currently reaches some 3.5 million children

 Give us a brief history of school feeding in Peru…

Known as ‘Qali Warma’, the school feeding programme in Peru delivers milk and other nutritious products to millions of children aged three to five across eight regions in Peru, including coastal areas, mountainous regions and the capital city, Lima, home to more than 30% of the population. The programme also has a strong educational element, teaching children about the importance of healthy eating, the personal hygiene, recycling and protecting the environment. The government, which is in overall charge, estimates that it will reach 3.5 million children in 2016.

 How did Tetra Pak come to be involved?

It’s been a long journey! We took the first step several years ago when starting to talk to the government about the school feeding programme. Together with Tetra Laval Food for Development we could share our expertise, examples, best practices and all the support that we can give to them in terms of school feeding. The government was looking for an easier, safer solution. So, along with the World Food Programme and Food for Development, we carried out an assessment and made recommendations. In 2015, the opportunity arose to start supplying enriched milk and milk with cereals beverages in Tetra Pak® aseptic packages with our customers. Subsequently, we continued working with our customers on formulation and packaging design and the new products were ready by March. Now around 25% of the products that are being distributed through the school feeding programme are ready-to-drink products and the other 75% are preparation products.

So how is Tetra Pak contributing to the programme? 

The most important contribution we can make is providing safe, high quality processing and packaging solutions to our customers. Together with Food for Development we’ve also worked to share our expertise and real success cases around the world, share how we help to integrated all the cycle, improve formulations, ensuring that each portion delivers maximum nutritional benefit. But I think perhaps the other most significant contribution is in helping to build bridges between the public and private sectors. In these kinds of programmes it is important to work as a team with our customers and invite them to participate and offer a very good product for the children. Another important support is our knowledge and expertise in recycling. It is also important to work with the schools and the operators of the programme to collect the packages and send them to the recycle industry and close the cycle of the package.

In this case, working as a team with Food for Development, we made a survey during the first months and the result was amazing; more than 80% of the children show a positive acceptance of the product and the package. This is the reason why we have to continue on this way and continue working for the future of the country.

What are your current priorities?

At this stage, my focus is to continue working with all stakeholders – the government, local producers and Tetra Pak – to support the future of the programme. We have to continue to support our customers and together find different products, not necessary dairy products. Nectar juices, new flavours and ready to drink solutions will bring healthy nutrition to the children. The most important priority is, in alliance with our customers, to make food safe and available, everywhere. Finally, as I mentioned before, it is also important to connect the recycle industry and work very hard with environmental protection.

And what are your plans for the future? 

We have three main goals. The first is to continue working with the government and local producers in a positive partnership to ensure the healthy nutrition and food protection. The second one is to develop, together with our customers, new flavours and formulations, including a non-dairy option. And finally, connect the recycling chain into the program.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work? 

There are so many! Seeing the children’s faces when they get their drinks, and knowing that they are getting safe nutrition. Knowing that their chances of having a healthy future is priceless. But I’m also really delighted that we are delivering the same products to the school feeding programme as we do to the commercial market: these children are getting the best. It’s something exciting and aspirational. I’d also like to think that we have helped to raise standards across the programme as a whole, and that we can continue to build a stronger supply chain here in Peru so that the benefits of the school feeding programme are felt as widely as possible.