This member participated in the following discussions
The first and simpliest step is to mandate food that is normally consumed by the BoP consumer with a balanced nutrient portfolio including the B-vitamins - this is the cheapest and easiest way to provide essential nutrients to vulnurable parts of a population as it does not require change of consumption habits. For a longer term strategy we need to look at food systems - from providing food to providing the right food. Currently carbohydrates fill the stomach and are cheap - we need to look into business cases how the food system can provide food diversity to low income populations. For this the SDG goal no 17 - forming partnerships - will be essential. Donations are not sustaianble but business cases are - so how can we take a huge step by providing business cases not only from the private sector but combining private and public sector. The public sector could support business cases by positive taxation for example or by supporting diversity in exising food systems.
I would like to share another slide which demonstrates the importance of a balanced diet to prevent anemia, it is not done with an iron alone intervention - even if haemoglobin levels are increased it is not guaranteed that the person is healthier or less anemic....
Following points should be mentioned:
If food variety is too expensive for low income populations, governments can consider to mandate food fortification. An important aspect which is widely neglected is effectiveness. Human does not function on one or 2 nutrients alone. The inclusion of the B-Vitamins for proper messaging in the body and proper cell functioning is essential. Contrary to wide believes fortification with B-Vitamins is not costly. To provide all essential B-Vitamins to 100 million people cost less than 20 million US$ per year.
If industry is providing healthy food options at low prices positive taxation of governments should be considered in order to increase the accessability and availablility of healthy food options.
Governments can support the approval and distribution of healthy food options, specially food options that are targetting the first 1000 days, i.e. adolescant girls.
Small and medium sized enterprises provide 85 % of the global packaged food supply. The SME's must be included in policies that promote sugar, fat and salt reduction and fortification.
On expectations in improving nutrition and food security in Asia:
One key issue in human nutrition is that science is still too open for wide interpretation. It has been established through the animal health science but also through successful feeding programs by the WFP in refugee camps and crisis feeding that only a well-balanced nutrient portfolio shows desired results in improving the health status of targeted populations. The argument of too high cost is not valid, the cost to provide all essential B-vitamins to 100 mio people is estimated at approx. 15 mio US$ per year.
Given the significance of the first 1000 days it is important that adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating mothers receive foods that have a balanced nutrient portfolio. If dietary diversity is too expensive the cheapest and most effective way is fortification of locally accepted foodstuffs.
ARoFIIN is currently studying the existing information on the nutrient gap between actual intake and the WHO recommendations for targeted population groups. With this data we will discuss with the food industry what nutritional interventions are possible.
Governments and the UN can contribute to allow accessibility and distribution of these foodstuffs and approve locally acceptable, highly fortified low cost food solutions.
On critical activities:
Educational programs on the importance of dietary variety is essential, i.e. home gardening for rural populations and the increased use of vegetables and fruit for urban poulations. For policy discussions an important aspect is how fruit and vegetable can become more affordable to increase usage in the food portfolio.
Policy makers, health authorities and the food industry need to engage in discussions aiming to widen the access to dietary diversity but also to fortified foods.
When mandated food fortification is discussed we need to realize the the past iron / folic acid fortification strategy of many countries was not successful. Reconstitution of rice and wheat to its original nutrition content before milling is essential.
On quality of commitments
15% of the processed food supply is provided by the multinational food companies, 85% by small medium enterprises.
If business cases to support the fortification of foodstuffs can be created the commitment to provide more healthy food choices can be increased. The UN should work with the food industry to discuss, develop and support the free access to nutritious food solutions.