Nutrition and Food Systems - E-consultation on an Issues Note proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee

09.12.2015 - 15.02.2016

At its 42nd session in October 2015, the CFS decided that the HLPE will prepare a report on Nutrition and Food Systems, expected to be presented at CFS 44 in October 2017.

To prepare this report elaboration process, the HLPE is launching an e-consultation to seek feedbacks, views and comments on the following issues’ Note on Nutrition and Food Systems proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee.

Please note that in parallel to this consultation, the HLPE is calling for expression of interests of experts for joining the Project Team as a leader and/or as a member. The call for candidature is open until 30 January 2016; visit the HLPE website www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-hlpe for more details.

HLPE Steering Committee Issues Note on Nutrition and Food Systems

In view of the implementation of the decisions of the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), of the implementation of the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly Goals 2 and 13, and in consideration of the recognized compelling need to foster a solid scientific and technical background in support of the CFS workstream on nutrition, there is an imperative need to examine the links between nutrition and food systems.

There is a diversity of food systems and  growing evidence of the health and nutrition implications of different food systems. The overarching issue in this report shall be to assess the influence of various types of food systems on diets, nutrition and health. It shall consider food chains from farm to fork and all the sustainability challenges of food systems (in the economic, social and environmental dimensions) and how they relate to nutrition.  This calls for a report  grounded on a multidisciplinary approach, and on a critical synthesis of the existing research and major reports, building upon multiple sources of evidence, not only academic but also experiential knowledge. 

Malnutrition is a global issue. The nutrition focus shall include malnutrition in all its forms, including under nutrition, over nutrition and micro nutrient deficiencies.  In addition, the report shall examine issues across the human life cycle (including esp. pregnant, lactating women, children, and elderly), including marginalized and vulnerable populations.

This is a complex issue and the report shall examine the multidimensionality of food systems and nutrition and the root causes of malnutrition. By doing so, it shall improve the capacity to follow-up transitions and evolutions through the provision of a conceptual framework that might be used in the future.

There is a need for a multifaceted approach, including a need to understand the internal and external (e.g. socio-demographic, environmental, and global changes such as climate change) drivers of the evolution of food systems as well as the drivers of consumer’s choices, given the heterogeneity of consumers.  In addition to assessing what is new, the report provides an opportunity to examine what is promising – either as a continuation or revitalization of existing and long-standing food system.

The HLPE report would address the following issues from global to regional and local levels:

  • How and why do diets change?
  • What are the links between diets, consumption and consumer habits and food systems?
  • How do changes in food systems affect changes of diets, and therefore health and nutritional outcomes?
  • What are the determinants of the changes in consumption?
  • How do the dynamics of food systems drive consumption patterns?
  • How to shape and to address pathways to healthy nutrition?
  • What is the role of public policy in promoting healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all?
  • How to build on the diversity of the existing food systems?
  • What is in practice the range of actionable solutions from farm to fork that enable better nutritional outcomes of food systems?
  • What action should different stakeholders, including governments, civil society and the private sector, take?

The report shall present a concise and focused review of the evidence-base depicting the critical relationships between food systems and nutrition, elaborate on concrete solutions to ensure that food systems deliver better nutritional outcomes, in order to propose concrete actions elicited from all stakeholder groups – farmers, processors, retailers, consumers, governments and other public actors – to reduce the triple burden of malnutrition.

Phillip Nkunika Zambia
22.02.2016

Indigenous foods are likely to play an important role in maternal and child nutrition in developing countries, yet the contribution of edible insects to the diet is not well understood. Insects are increasingly being recognised as critical to improving food and nutritional security. Although  there are over 2000 insect species, believed to be consumed, in many countries, they are not perceived  as an essential part of the diet. There is need to popularise the eating of insects. This call for a change in mind set.

Max Julio Maguiña Maza Personal, Peru
17.02.2016

Desarrollo de Invernaderos Autosostenidos en zonas alto andinas del Perú (mejor forma de controlar las inclemencias de la naturaleza – estas causan pobreza, desnutrición y abandono de la serranía del país).

El Perú cuenta con extensas áreas de superficie (128.5 millones de hectáreas), que una buena parte de ella se puede aprovechar para la agricultura; actualmente solo el 1% se utiliza (según datos de la FAOSTAT); para nuestro caso nos centramos en la zona de la sierra del Perú, la cual cuenta con 35.1 millones de hectáreas de superficie, de las cuales 1.3 millones de hectáreas son terrenos con aptitud de cultivo y de esto solo 20000 hectáreas es de cultivo permanente; actualmente el resto de las superficies no se puede aprovechar en forma continua porque las inclemencias de la naturaleza (heladas, granizadas, falta de lluvias, exceso de lluvias, erosión, etc.) no permite; y unos cuantos Agricultores del Ande se atreven a cultivar (en épocas de lluvia) con la incertidumbre de lograr o no su cosecha (por necesidad), pero el riesgo es alto. Según datos los rendimientos obtenidos son deficientes comparados con otras zonas de bajo riesgo.

Pero a pesar de lo anterior el Perú es un país premiado por Dios, ya que contamos con todo los recursos para realizar una agricultura intensiva; pero para esto se necesita inversión, y creo que es el momento de realizar (Según proyecciones de la FAO, estamos en una inseguridad alimentaria, por problemas medioambientales) estos trabajos porque es una oportunidad para nuestro país por la demanda creciente de alimentos que se presenta en el mundo; ya que superficie tenemos, agua tenemos; en la zona de la sierra del Perú se tiene precipitaciones por encima de 350 mm de precipitación anual, la que se puede aprovechar tranquilamente para cultivar todo el año; además, para mantener adecuadamente todo el sistema de cultivo se necesita energía, también contamos, en las mismas zonas el índice de irradiación varia de 5.5 a 6 Kwh/m2.

Para lograr dominar la naturaleza y aprovechar sus recursos es mediante invernaderos autosostenidos (el agua se capta de los techos y son almacenados en estanques apropiados, la energía que necesita para mantener todo el invernadero es energía solar fotovoltaica – instalados en los techos de los almacenes u oficinas), para ello se cuenta con tecnologías desarrolladas en todo el mundo (desde México, España u Holanda, entre otros) que se encuentran a disposición; entonces solo queda la decisión de invertir.

Invirtiendo aproximadamente $250000 por hectárea podemos tener una sierra agrícola intensiva con producción permanente, podemos desarrollar con pequeños parceleros, fundos, comunidades campesinas o empresas privadas, etc. Convirtiéndoles en empresarios agrícolas.

Para dar inicio a este proyecto tenemos que desarrollar un invernadero piloto de 1 ha mínimo, para determinar todas las variables necesarias (de construcción, soporte, rendimientos, calidad, necesidad de personal, costos reales, etc.) y multiplicar lo aprendido.

Lo más importante de todo esto es que se producirán alimentos orgánicos con el plus nutricional que le confiere el desarrollo de estas plantas en las alturas.

Santosh Kumar Mishra Population Education Resource Centre, India
17.02.2016

Thanks for accepting my request for late submission. I am attaching herewith my contribution for Nutrition and Food Systems: E-consultation on an Issues Note proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee. It runs in 18 pages. I hope you will find it interesting. At the end, I have made some additional points which, according to me, are relevant to the e-discussion. 

I look forward to continued association with you. Regards

Sincerely

Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
Technical Assistant,
Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
S. N. D. T. Women's University,
Patkar Hall Building, First Floor,
Mumbai-400020, Maharashtra, India.

 

See the attachment: Contribution_by_Dr_Mishra.doc
Andi Sharma Canada
16.02.2016

Speaking from the Northern Canadian Indigenous experience of food insecurity within Canadian food systems, and from the state perspective, these are the following elements that I would hope the HLPE report could speak to:

1. The need to decolonize public policy related to food system access (particularly with respect to traditional indigenous foods)

2. The application of an Indigenous lens to the research, development and implementation of the report.

3. Food sovereignty must be central to the discussion as it implies a whole host of other determinants that is not necessarily captured in food "security" or food systems. Obviously as applied to the Indigenous context.

4. Mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation built into the conceptual framework

5. Concrete evidence-informed public policy prescriptions that serve to operationalize recommendations of the report

6. Not all instances of food system failure (food insecurity) revolve around large-scale agricultural production. In fact, the food system failures that affect the northern Indigenous Canadian experience of food insecurity are driven precisely beacuse of the geographical limitations of large scale agricultural production. Including a focus on small-scale farming is better but still doesn't account for the physical limitations of the northern canadian coontext. This might be too unique to incorporate, but it would be great to see some consideration given to the different kinds of food system failures (in this case geographical isolation in lands unsuitable for large scale production thereby precluding the possibility of tying eocnomic opportunity to food production on a large scale.)

7. Concerted effort to underpin food insecurity with the grinding poverty that is driven by a lack of economic opportunites in the aforementioned geographically siolated areas. This will likely be drawn out in the discussion on the multiplicity of determinants of health that drive food system failure but just to be sure....

8. Monopoly retailers are a large part of the problem for northern Canada. So a discussion on the role of concentrated corporate power to affect the state's food system policy could be helpful....

 Andi Sharma - Senior Food Security Policy Analyst - Government of Manitoba, Canada

Jan van der Velde WFP, Italy
16.02.2016

Comments and inputs from WFP on the issues paper for the HLPE Report on Nutrition and Food Systems.

  1. The nutrition dimension seems very much linked to the consumers - the end users of the food produced. This is important, but it might be relevant to also reflect on the linkage between the farmers (who consume their own production) and nutrition - or in other words the linkage between agriculture/production and nutrition. In particular, the report could introduce production environment challenges and food systems, unless it is addressed in other HLPE studies.
  2. Perhaps, it would also be good to include a more concrete question on how to operationalise policies linked to nutrition. This could include for example institutional procurement of nutritious products, public investment in infrastructure to improve production and marketing of nutritious food, etc.
  3. When the report talks about stakeholders, “farmers” as the main producers of food should be included alongside governments, private sector and civil society.
  1. The Issues Note writes that "The overarching issue in this report shall be to assess the influence of various types of food systems on diets, nutrition and health." We assume this type of assessment will be more informal than formal? To our knowledge formal assessment methods for assessing food systems are still very much in the ‘development stage’.  For example see the related work of CIMSANS; available at: http://www.ilsi.org/ResearchFoundation/CIMSANS/Documents/SNS-Metrics-Workshop-Background.pdf

Considering that the overarching issue of this HLPE report will be to "assess the various types of food systems on diets, nutrition, and health"  - the text could probably be clearer by acknowledging that assessment methods and metrics are still very much being explored and developed. We would suggest that a sentence be added/inserted just before "It shall consider...". That inserted sentence could read:

"Given that formal methods and metrics for assessing food systems are still non-existent or in the very early stages of development; the HLPE assessment work is likely to be more qualitative in nature and grounded in literature reviews and expert opinions.

Lastly please add a comment here noting that WFP's food security analysis service (the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping/VAM unit) is keen to collaborate and/or support HLPE members on matters pertaining to food systems analysis; and the development of methods, metrics, and the underlying data and information systems that are needed to support such analysis. 

  1. The issues note talks about provision of a conceptual framework (second page, second paragraph). The development of a new food systems conceptual framework could be useful and is probably needed.  No doubt existing food security and nutrition conceptual frameworks contain much of what is needed but not everything.  One of the key aspects of a ‘food systems conceptual framework’ should be incorporating the notion of a ‘resilient and sustainable food system’ (as also reflected in SDG target 2.4).  This is where the greatest challenges are likely to be. Regarding conceptual and analytical frameworks for resilience; the work that has been developed and published by the FSIN TWG on Resilience Measurement (done within a food security context) should be both valuable for this HLPE on food systems. Please see this link for more information: http://www.fsincop.net/topics/resilience-measurement/outupts/en
  2. With respect to the questions posed on the second page, WFP VAM routinely collects and analyses a wealth of data and indicators related to these topics/questions listed here.  Examples of relevant WFP indicators in this context are the Household level Food Consumption Score (FCS) indicator and the Coping Strategies Index (CSI or rCSI/reduced Coping Strategies Index). Please see http://vam.wfp.org/ for more information amongst others. As noted in an earlier comment WFP VAM is keen to collaborate and/or support the work of the HLPE if needed/appropriate

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Best,

Jan

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Jan van der Velde
Policy and Programme Officer
Policy and Programme Division (OSZ)
World Food Programme
Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68/70, 00148 Rome, Italy

 

 

Richard Black , United States of America
16.02.2016

In reading the wide variety of comments, it seems that many have a strong interest in one or two particular approaches, and so advocate exclusively for those.  I suspect that this is not the path to success.  Neither will adopting all approaches at once lead to success.  Undoubtedly, it will prove essential to focus efforts in order to achieve sufficient change (in that area of focus) to impact diet.  Which begs the question of how to bring that focus, how to evaluate so many different options in a balanced manner and make decisions regarding implementation.

One path, of course, is to ask which of the variety of approaches have measureable and quantifiable outcomes.  It strikes me that few, if any, of the comments speak to measurement of success, speak to appropriate metrics.  Any plan developed within the context of this initiative will need to be phased in over many years, in various countries, and continue for many years afterward.  Constant adaptation of any plan will be critical for long term relevance, and having the right metrics in place is the only path I am aware of that will permit thoughtful adaptation.

For example, practicality must be a pillar of any effort.  A home garden (fruits and vegetables) for a family of four and assuming yields typical of the USA (very generous) would require a plot roughly 12m x 12m.  In dense urban areas, this is not feasible.  However, are community gardens feasible?  What are the positive knock-on consequences of such gardens?  These questions are intended to highlight the nuance required in determining metrics – sometimes the thing you change is not the thing that best represents the changes made. 

As a last comment, multi-national packaged food companies typically impact the food supply in a very small way, perhaps 5% to 10% of the total food supply in a developing nation (compared to more than 75% in developed).  Nonetheless, packaged food may still represent a large portion of the diet though the companies making the foods are locally based.  If focus is directed solely at multi-nationals, there is risk of missing the lion’s share of the food supply.  Any effort must consider all sources of food and beverage entering the food system.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Sincerely,

Richard

Richard Black, PhD

Michael Jahi Chappell Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, United States of America
16.02.2016

Thank you for the invitation to add to the discussion on the Issues’ Note on Nutrition and Food Systems. I have the following comments for consideration by the HLPE in this report:

1.    The large and very influential role of corporate concentration, commercial marketing and processed food development must be analyzed head on. There may in fact be unavoidable trade-offs between current systems and profits and improved nutrition (see note on Smith et al. 2013). The literature on these issues is extensive. See Hendrickson (2015); Howard (2016); Lang et al. (2009); Moss (2013); Nestle (2013); and Smith et al. (2013). The power of commercials and corporate influence (for instance, on what is served in schools) are obviously important influences on how diets change, yet is rarely addressed directly in many analyses and scenario projections.

a.       Smith et al.’s conclusions are of especial note, particularly with regards to profit and regulatory capture (albeit in a US context): “[…]We ask whether the current state of affairs represents a market failure, and—if so—what might be done about it. We argue that while today’s industrial food system has its advantages, the asymmetric information problems inherent to this system have resulted in a “lemons-style” breakdown in the market for processed foods. The appropriate policy response to such situations (namely, verifiable quality standards) is well known, but such policies are likely (in the short run) to reduce profits for existing large industrial producers of food. In light of the food industry’s long history of success at regulatory capture, we propose the formation of a new independent food standards agency devoted to protecting the interests of the American consumer.”

2.    The fact of persistent and large negative externalities—particularly health externalities, both direct and indirect—must be taken into account when evaluating current and alternative food systems. It makes no sense, for example, to refer to current systems as “efficient” in the presence of large, uninternalized externalities. (FAO 2015; Pretty et al. 2001). Further, the possibility of raising food prices to send appropriate signals about the costs of different foods and production systems, while politically unpopular, should be considered. It is, in fact, one way that “diets change,” and the many projections of future demand for, for example, meat from ruminants appears to me to be economically and ecologically incoherent and untenable without envisioning the internalization of known costs and risks into prices. See also point 8 on possible effects of (higher) food prices.

3.    The fact that, with few exceptions, plant breeding has not focused on nutrition, and there is some evidence of nutritional losses in cultivars over time, should be addressed. (e.g. Davis 2009)

4.    As acknowledged in multiple sources, gender equality and women’s rights should be a central feature of the analysis on nutrition, e.g. Agarwal (2015); Bezner Kerr et al. (2007); Bezner Kerr et al. (2011); Bezner Kerr et al. (2013); Jones et al. (2014); Smith et al. (2003); and Smith and Haddad (2015); see also the FAO Key recommendations for improving nutrition through agriculture and food systems, which includes the point for programs and investments “Empower women” and the point for policies “Include measures that protect and empower the poor and women.”

5.    The constraints placed on many countries with regards to providing food and nutrition security for their own populations must be addressed, and in fact, prioritized above simple economic returns and trade considerations for corporations—which was not done during the formation of the FAO, as McKeon (2014) elaborates. See also Weis (2007) for a discussion of the impacts of the Agreement on Agriculture.

6.    The growing literature on connections between crop diversity and dietary diversity should be amply explored; e.g. Burlingame and Dernini (2012); with the contexts of food sovereignty and autonomy considered alongside.

7.    The growing realization of the importance of dietary diversity per se should be addressed, e.g. Smith and Haddad 2015; Heady and Ecker (2013).

8.    A sophisticated analysis of nutrition, production, productivity, and prices must be undertaken. While there has long been an assumption that increasing productivity for farmers will increase their well-being, nutrition, and income, the possibility that higher prices is equally or more important or effective is seldom seriously addressed. But contemporary analyses and re-analyses of earlier data have solidly (though arguably not yet conclusivelyl) shown that higher food prices may in fact be better for farmers, and indeed, may drive up urban and rural wages (and therefore improve the possibilities for food and nutrition security); Headey (2014); Ivanic and Will (2014). Therefore, the typical assumption of productivity à increased farmer income à lower food prices à improved nutrition outcomes should be interrogated, questioned, and likely revised in the face of current evidence.

9.    The significant contribution to dietary diversity and food security from urban agriculture should be acknowledged and carefully examined; Thebo et al. 2014; Zezza and Tasciotti 2014.

10.  Cultural and ethical values, and their interaction with nutrition, food sovereignty, and autonomy (not autarky) should also be explicitly considered and their significance allowed due weight. This includes, but is not limited to, the importance of participation and empowerment, as recognized in the Key recommendations for improving nutrition through agriculture and food systems, which is based on a consensus process among nutritionists and related experts.

Thank you again for the opportunity to submit comments towards this important work.

M. Jahi Chappell, Ph.D.

Senior Staff Scientist

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Minneapolis, MN, USA

References Cited

Agarwal, B. (2015). Food Security, Productivity, and Gender Inequality. In R. J. Herring (Ed.),The Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bezner Kerr, R., Berti, P. R., & Shumba, L. (2011). Effects of a participatory agriculture and nutrition education project on child growth in northern Malawi. Public Health Nutrition, 14(08), 1466-1472.

Bezner Kerr, R., Snapp, S., Chirwa, M., Shumba, L., & Msachi, R. (2007). Participatory research on legume diversification with Malawian smallholder farmers for improved human nutrition and soil fertility. Experimental Agriculture, 43(04), 437-453.

Bezner-Kerr, R., Lupafya, E., & Shumba, L. (2013). Food Sovereignty, Gender and Nutrition: Perspectives from Malawi: Conference Paper #68. Paper presented at the Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue, Yale University, New Haven, CT. http://www.iss.nl/fileadmin/ASSETS/iss/Research_and_projects/Research_ne...

Burlingame, B., & Dernini, S. (Eds.). (2012). Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and solutions for policy, research and action. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Davis, D. R. (2009). Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence? HortScience, 44(1), 15-19.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2013). Key recommendations for improving nutrition through agriculture and food systems. Retrieved from Rome: http://unscn.org/files/Agriculture-Nutrition-CoP/Agriculture-Nutrition_K...

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2015). Natural Capital Impacts in Agriculture: Supporting Better Business Decision-Making. Retrieved from Rome: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/nr/sustainability_pathways/docs/F...

Headey, D. (2014). Food prices and poverty reduction in the long run (1331). Retrieved from Washington, D.C.: http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/128056

Headey, D., & Ecker, O. (2013). Rethinking the measurement of food security: from first principles to best practice. Food Security, 5(3), 327-343. doi:10.1007/s12571-013-0253-0

Hendrickson, M. K. (2015). Resilience in a concentrated and consolidated food system. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 5(3), 418-431. doi:10.1007/s13412-015-0292-2

Howard, P. H. (2016). Concentration and Power in the Food System: Who Controls What We Eat? London: Bloomsbury Academic Publishing.

Ivanic, M., & Martin, W. (2014). Short-and long-run impacts of food price changes on poverty.World Bank Policy Research Working Paper(7011).

Jones, A. D., Shrinivas, A., & Bezner-Kerr, R. (2014). Farm production diversity is associated with greater household dietary diversity in Malawi: Findings from nationally representative data. Food Policy, 46(0), 1-12. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.02.001

Lang, T., Barling, D., & Caraher, M. (2009). Food policy: Integrating health, environment & society. Oxford, UK; New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

McKeon, N. (2014). Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations: Routledge.

Moss, M. (2013). Salt, sugar, fat: how the food giants hooked us: Random House.

Nestle, M. (2013). Food politics: How the food industry influences nutrition and health: University of California Press.

Pretty, J., Brett, C., Gee, D., Hine, R., Mason, C., Morison, J., . . . Dobbs, T. (2001). Policy Challenges and Priorities for Internalizing the Externalities of Modern Agriculture. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 44(2), 263-283. doi:10.1080/09640560123782

Smith, L. C., & Haddad, L. (2015). Reducing Child Undernutrition: Past Drivers and Priorities for the Post-MDG Era. World Development, 68(0), 180-204. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2014.11.014

Smith, L. C., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., Haddad, L., & Martorell, R. (2003). The importance of women's status for child nutrition in developing countries (131). Retrieved from Washington, D.C.: http://www.ifpri.org/publication/importance-womens-status-child-nutritio...

Smith, T. G., Chouinard, H. H., & Wandschneider, P. R. (2011). Waiting for the invisible hand: Novel products and the role of information in the modern market for food. Food Policy, 36(2), 239-249.  

Thebo, A. L., Drechsel, P., & Lambin, E. F. (2014). Global assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture: irrigated and rainfed croplands. Environmental Research Letters, 9(11), 114002.

Weis, T. (2007). The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming. Blackpoint, NS. Canada: Fernwood Publishing.

Zezza, A., & Tasciotti, L. (2010). Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries. Food Policy, 35(4), 265-273.

 

See the attachment: hlpe nutrition comments.docx
Anne Roulin Nestlé, Switzerland
15.02.2016

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments on the Issue Note on the new HLPE report on Nutrition and Food Systems.

Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 with the optimal nutrition to lead an active and healthy life requires a holistic approach to the food system across the entire value chain.   There are significant pressure points in the food system that need to be addressed if we are to continue meeting our nutrition needs without depleting water tables, degrading soil and reducing land availability. The Issue Note already outlines a series of crucial questions however, in my opinion agriculture should be addressed more explicitly in the Report as it is the foundation for food and nutrition security.  Despite the advances in agricultural production, progress has focused only on yield.  Nutritional value has been largely ignored and staple crops do not provide sufficient micronutrients.     Crop plants and their cultivation are the fundamental building blocks for a food secure world.  Whether these are grown for food or feed for livestock, they are the foundation of food and nutrient security.  Science will be necessary for increasing food production, and for ensuring healthful dietary patterns, in ways that are sustainable. There is still much to learn about the impact that dietary recommendations, and food choices have on agriculture and the environment.

Many of the challenges for the future of food will be faced where the crop are grown—on the farm. Farmers need to plant the right crops and create the right conditions to maximise productivity (yield) and quality (e.g. nutritional content), whilst maintaining the environment, and earning a living.   Across the globe, the average age of farmers is increasing, with the continued migration to urban areas who will constitute the next generation of farmers?  New advances in science and technology can provide the tools and know-how that will, together with a more entrepreneurial approach (“agripreneurs”), help farmers to meet the inexorable demand for the sustainable production of nutritious foods for future generations. It is clear that scientific and technological advances, especially those that promote sustainable  practices in agriculture, will be essential to ensure a nutritious food supply for future  generations.

The scale of the problem is immense and no one institution, government, company or NGO can possibly deliver alone on such an agenda.  Partnerships are absolutely crucial and in my opinion the Report should specifically address how to promote the formation of cross-sector partnerships and highlight successful case studies.

Ref: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.7554/pdf

Anne Roulin
VP: Nutrition, Health & Wellness & Sustainability
Nestlé
Switzerland
 

Gábor Figeczky IFOAM - Organics International, Germany
15.02.2016

IFOAM – Organics International is thankful for this opportunity to contribute to shaping the basic concept of this very timely report. While in our opinion the set of scoping questions is basically very comprehensive, it fails to address the issue of sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 and in particular SDG 2 create a clear link between nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture. We understand that the focus of the report is food systems and nutrition, however, in order to avoid the silo effect, it needs to look at how we can develop food systems which provide everyone with sufficient nutritious food in a sustainable way.

As smallholders produce 70% of the world’s food and are the ones who tend to produce in a more sustainable way, their role requires special attention in the report.

Taking all these into consideration, we propose to explore the following additional issues:

-       how to build food systems which support healthy diets and sustainability?

-       what policies are needed to achieve such food systems? (what has worked and what hasn’t?)

-       what is the role of education and communications in achieving these food systems?

-       how to ensure a sustainable and healthy diet for people in remote areas?

Brian Revell Harper Adams university, United Kingdom
15.02.2016

These comments are a contribution to giving focus to the issues to be addressed in the HLPE e consultation.

The simple typology of  4 principal food systems [Gomez and Ricketts, Food Policy 42 (2013) 139-150] should be adequate to conceptualise food systems. Each may differ to some degree in expression in relation to their geography and food products, in the economic, social, infrastructural and political environments within which they operate and key detailed case study exemplars will be required to draw out the nuanced differences within each system.  The 4 systems can readily embrace the supply of food products and nutrition from agriculture and pastoralism , aquaculture and capture fisheries production.

These are:-

  • Traditional (short chain often small-scale producer (agriculture/aquaculture or harvest fisheries to traders and consumers in wet markets
  • Modern  (Complex globally-oriented supply chains, technology oriented, based on commercial larger scale farming, with a higher proportion of processed and manufactured (added value) products, ability to handle both dry goods and fresh produce in chill chains, and retailed to consumers through supermarkets and food service companies).
  • Modern-to-traditional (Domestic and multinational food manufacturers sell through traditional wholesaler, trader and small local stores)
  • Traditional to modern (supermarkets and food manufacturers source product from small scale producers and wholesalers.

The principle questions which the study should specifically be addressing are:-

  1. What is the relative importance of each of the different food systems in delivering total nutrition in different countries/regions of the world (ie what shares of consumption and nutrition do these systems account for)?
  2. What is the extent to which these systems are delivering adequate and appropriate nutrition to meet the needs of consumers?
  3. Are and will these systems be fit for purpose in the context of the continuing and future dynamic impacts of economic growth, urbanisation, global population growth and structural change on environmental sustainability and food security?
  4. If not, what are the economic policy levers and other approaches to remove constraints( inter alia in supply chain infrastructure, social and cultural norms, income levels and distribution, value chain costs, food choice, availability, affordability and quality) to induce change and adjustment in consumption and diet?

It is axiomatic that consumers will seek to enhance the variety in their diets when they have the means and ability to do so.  In particular, we need to understand more about how economic growth, urbanisation and technological innovation affect the rate of food system change and evolution, consumption and nutrition. These include issues such as :-

i.     how retail concentration and super marketing affect food choice, affordability and availability

 ii.     the opportunity of small scale producers and rural communities to engage with modern supply chains and its impact on their incomes, diet and nutrition;

 iii.     the relative proportions of nutrition derived from processed and opposed to fresh foods, and their respective income elasticities of demand (many aggregate income elasticities of demand are estimated at the undifferentiated commodity-level eg beef, cereals etc)

 iv.    an understanding of own and cross (substitute) price elasticities of demand for different food types (and hence for their nutrient contents).  This is particularly relevant where taxation of product content such as sugars/fats may be considered as approaches to reducing over consumption of products which can have adverse impacts on health (including obesity).