The monetary value of human milk in Francophone west Africa: a PROFILES analysis for nutrition policy communication

Food Nutr Bull. 2002 Jun;23(2):153-61. doi: 10.1177/156482650202300204.


Using a simple and conservative methodology, we estimated the volume and monetary value of the human milk produced by lactating women in Francophone West Africa. In that region, children zero to 35.9 months old consume over 1.1 billion liters of human milk per year. However, suboptimal breastfeeding practices account for the loss of 175 million liters of human milk annually. If the human milk consumed by children zero to 35.9 months old were to be adequately replaced using commercial breastmilk substitutes, an annual expenditure of about 2 billion US dollars would be needed. At the household level, the annual replacement cost of human milk would amount to US$412 per infant. This is beyond the reach of most families in West Africa, where as many as 61% of families in some countries live on less than one US dollar per day. Appropriate policies to foster breastfeeding need to be developed and adequately implemented. Such policy action is more likely to occur if decision makers fully appreciate the monetary value of human milk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / economics*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human*
  • Nutrition Policy / economics*