Innovating with local juice beverages in a school feeding programme in Guyana

The challenge

In 2012 the population of Guyana was around 746,955.[1], with 113,712 children estimated to be in primary school age (grades 1-6, 6-12 years) and 31,673 children estimated to be in pre-school (age 4-6 years).[2]

Specific information pertaining to the health and education situation in Guyana prior to the implementation of the SFP was as follows:

  • 11% of children under the age of 5 in Guyana are underweight and 18% are stunted (20% of children in rural areas are stunted as compared to 11% in urban areas) according to information collected in 2006. According to the same study, the highest levels of stunting are in the country’s interior at 35%.[3]    
  • 30% of children under the age of 18 were underweight, 41% were stunted and 21% were wasted based on a 2004 study implemented by a Canadian medical team targeting a rural community and surrounding area.[4]
  • 38% of rural coastal children under five years of age and 42% in the country’s interior suffer from anaemia[5]
  • 47.9% of pre-school children have particularly high levels of iron deficiency.[6]
  • Only 69% of secondary school-aged children are enrolled in school.[7]
  • Less than 14% of rural household heads have completed secondary education in rural areas (23% in Georgetown).[8]

Supporting local value chains

The Ministry of Education in Guyana is operating their School Feeding Programme (SFP) with the assistance from the World Bank´s Education for All – Fast Track Initiative. The SFP included locally produced juices and covered 53,340 children. Tetra Laval Food for Development (FfD) identified the opportunity to participate in the SFP by linking the World Bank´s Education for All – Fast Track Initiative and working jointly with Tetra Pak customer, Demerara Distillers, Ltd., to offer long-life processed juice drinks in Tetra Wedge Aseptic® 200ml. Slim using locally produced cherry and passion fruit. Acerola cherries were used for the school feeding beverage, which has the highest level of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for an individual fruit. Passion fruit is a good source of nutrients particularly fibre, vitamin C and provitamin A.

The SFP created new jobs throughout the value chain while focusing on the primary objectives: feeding children, increasing school enrolment, improving classroom participation, and alleviating poverty. As one example, the SFP allowed our customer, Demerara Distillers, Ltd., to double their production using existing capacity as well as to create new jobs in the distribution chain.

Programme implementation

In January 2010 the Guyana government initiated a new school feeding programme targeting pre-school and primary school children in coastal and riverain communities in 7 regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10) around the country. Each child received fruit beverage rations every school day during the school term.  

The Ministry of Education publicly acknowledged that the juice beverages distributed as a complimentary breakfast snack during the early morning hours of class, played a significant role in boosting classroom attendance rates since their introduction in the school feeding programme.

School girl rinsing Acerola cherries

School girl rinsing Acerola cherries

School children with cherry juice in Tetra Wedge Aseptic cartons

School children with cherry beverages in Tetra Wedge Aseptic cartons

Working in collaboration to provide technical assistance support

As part of the launch of the SFP, Tetra Pak, Tetra Laval Food for Development worked in collaboration with our customer Demerara Distillers, Ltd., to provide technical support to the Ministry of Education where best practices were shared from SFPs worldwide from more than 50 countries.  Furthermore, product and package acceptability tests were conducted by the Ministry of Education in various schools achieving excellent results with an overall 97.2% acceptability rate.

Tetra Pak and Tetra Laval Food for Development also shared best practices in quality control and food safety in the schools, logistics and distribution modalities, beverage stock movements and individual consumption registration, baseline data collection and community involvement in programme implementation.  Follow-up missions were conducted to monitor programme implementation with very positive results and feedback from the communities.  The programme is continues to play and integral role in providing essential vitamins and nutrients to children while supporting the local value chain.

[1] Census - Bureau of Statistics (
[2] UNESCO 2011 statistics
[3] Guyana Demographic & Health Survey-Preliminary Results. 2009.
[4] Report of Canadian Medical Team. 2004.
[5] Guyana Demographic and Health Survey 2009. Preliminary Report.
[6] FAO Nutritional Country Profiles-Guyana.. 2003.
[7] UNICEF Guyana Multiple Cluster Survey. 2006.
[8] Guyana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. 2002.