Assessing the Market Viability of High-Quality, Fortified Peanut-Based Foods in Haiti. Part 2

Food preparation specialists have helped popular class Haitians adapt to the increasing obstacles to preparing meals at home and increasing poverty while still allowing them to obtain high calories at low cost. In the process they also earn income to support themselves and their families and invigorated the local economy. But food alternatives have emerged over the last two decades that compete with the local food preparation economy and arguably lead consumers away from success in the quest for affordable and if not nutritious, at least, high caloric value foods. This new option involves snack foods such as cookies, salted crackers, and cheese puffs. They are not part of an integrated local adaptation to poverty but rather a global one. Most are prepared not in impoverished Haiti, and not with Haitian produce but rather low-cost ingredients from industrial producers in other countries. Perhaps somewhat ironically, they are almost all prepared not in developed countries but others poor countries, some close by, such as the Dominican Republic and Guatemala; others on the far side of the world, such as India and Pakistan. They are imported and sold on the streets, in open-air markets, and in stores, where they come into competition not only with local produce but also with the cottage food preparation industry seen in the previous section.

Putting the economy aside, from a strictly nutritional point of view, it is a problem when a nutritionally stressed and extremely poor people spend scarce cash reserves on junk food. The issue is not so much that Haitians are eating the low nutritional foods—such as extruded corn snacks like cheese puffs, made from degermed cornmeal (meaning most of the nutrients are stripped away–but that they forego opportunities to spend limited resources on more nutritious fare. As seen in earlier sections, sometimes the problem is simply that higher-quality foods are not available, as they have short shelf lives and do not ship well. But now that popular class Haitians have access to these low-nutrition snack foods on nearly every street corner, they are being used as quick substitutes for more balanced, true meals and for the oil-laden but often hi-protein street foods.

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