Abbott taps manufacturing smarts in Haiti rebuild

As Haiti continues to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake, it's putting a little pharma manufacturing know-how into a food facility thanks to Abbott Labs ($ABT). Abbott volunteers--in addition to lending facility expertise--provided some process expertise to improve the quality of the food staple made there: Nourimanba, a high-protein, high-calorie, peanut-based paste.

Prior to the quake, Abbott had been working with the charity Partners in Health on improving the operation, a one-room building with some processing done outside. When the quake hit, the job became essentially a greenfield project, reports Fast Company.

Abbott and Partners took stock of the devastation. The collaborators got to work with the goal of building a facility and processes appropriate to the location and available skill levels. Whenever possible, they specified low-maintenance equipment and developed diagnostic processes that would test for local toxins in the Nourimanba.

During processing, Abbott employees noticed workers mixing vitamins with peanut paste. They suggested instead using sugar as the mixing medium to improve vitamin distribution. "We have a certain expertise as a business that these economies are hungry for," said Kathy Pickus, an Abbott VP, in the story.

The new Nourimanba facility is about to break ground. Local workers are performing the construction, and when it is complete, the operation will be run by locals.

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