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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

The Private Sector Mechanism would like to thank the HLPE and CFS for this opportunity and their consideration of the present input on the V0 of the Report for purposes of improving the final report.

We look forward to participating in the CFS Reducing Inequalities Workstream in collaboration with all CFS multi-stakeholders to promote effective CFS outputs and outcomes. Please find attached input on the V0 draft and concrete suggestions for improvement.


Secretariat, Private Sector Mechanism of the Committee on World Food Security

Food and agriculture face a multitude of recent and long-standing challenges that have all led to increasing inequalities within the agrifood sector. To respond effectively, all stakeholders, including the private sector, must form alliances and partnerships that drive innovation, create jobs and advance equitable growth. With respect to SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) acknowledges the crucial role businesses can play as engines for economic growth, the creation of jobs, and promoting of economic activity throughout the value chain that does not contribute to inequality.

General observations on the Zero Draft

The PSM supports efforts to reduce inequalities in food security and nutrition and the work of the HLPE to inform us on how to do so. While there are inequalities in food security and nutrition, having enough food supply and access to it, should not be overlooked. We urge the HLPE to ensure the Report includes information based on robust science and provides an unbiased view of the issues at hand to effectively contribute to policy-making decisions. Currently the conceptual framework provided does not explain how policymakers can use the framework in practice. It would benefit from including examples that successfully showcase the use of the framework and that address all aspects of “engine of inequity”.

Furthermore, considerable research has already been done on this topic that should be reflected in the Report, including the following relevant research by the OECD In order to avoid duplication of resources and provide value to this work, please consider the OECD study on the functioning of the world’s food and agriculture system and how it can contribute to reduced hunger and the attainment of global food security.

The PSM would also share a more general concern regarding the way the role of the private sector is portrayed throughout the V0. The text seems overly pessimistic about the role of food manufacturers – who are mentioned as profiteering from inequalities (p.64 “It is important to note that these conditions of multidimensional poverty have provided opportunities …”) and proliferating non-nutritious food (p.109: “Big Food’s influence on market proliferation with non-nutritious foods”).

We believe the paper should acknowledge the positive work done by food manufacturers as well that can be gleaned throughout the value-chain and scaled up. For example, on improving nutrition through micronutrients and fortification, see reports from the WFP “Food fortification — enhancing the micronutrient content of commonly eaten foods — provides a cost effective and life changing solution until we can ensure healthy and nutritious diets for all.” As for improvements in the healthiness of products, see Executive-Summary.pdf. There are numerous examples that can be shared on improving access to food in remote areas and ensuring food quality and safety for all consumers.

Specific references to missing concepts and issues insufficiently addressed

• Innovation and Technology:

o A more balanced view of innovation and technology is needed, as reflected by the FAO Science and Innovation Forum, which highlighted how it could address the various challenges the agrifood sector currently faces. Furthermore, food science and technology should be seen as part of the solution in achieving greater equity in food and nutrition security.

o Food science and technology has made significant contributions in reducing the cost of food through packaging and processing technologies that allow foods to be safe and stable for longer periods of time, which is acknowledged in the report, but positioned as a disadvantage for healthy diets.

o Currently, innovation and technology are listed as one of the systemic drivers and root causes of inequalities, which is a narrow and overly negative perception that does not acknowledge the potential and reality of food science and technology, among other innovations.

• Diet Quality

o P.34 – measures of diet quality at a global level could benefit from highlighting the need for harmonized diet quality assessment methods and data frameworks.

o It would be relevant to include a link to the CFS data workstream in this section.

o Certain sections referring to diet quality (page 34) use indicators such as AHEI and Global Diet Quality may not be the most suitable to reflect the global diet quality. They oversimplify by categorizing ‘(un)healthy diets’ based on adherence to dietary guidelines, especially when based on Western diets and subsequently used to assess diets in other areas of the world.

o It is also recommendable to make the distinction in diet assessments between nutrient (in)sufficiency and dietary risk factors in relation to non-communicable diseases.

o The data available from the Global Burden of Disease ( on population health and how it varies by different regions, socioeconomic status, or ethnic groups in their country, could improve the content of this section.

• Obesity

o References to adult obesity prevalence needs a closer look and could benefit from looking at the following links. Prevalence is higher in advanced countries, but is rising faster in developing ones:….

o Also worth checking if prevalence indeed is higher in “wealthier households” as papers draw different conclusions "Women and men with lower incomes are more likely to be obese, entrenching inequality" en.pdf?expires=1671700345&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=46CE0FC9 08CC32041799611FFFB294CA.

o There is concern that solutions mentioned, such as on page 109 (2009 South Korean example) may be outdated and worth analyzing more closely before presenting as solutions that are replicable and efficient, considering they do not seem to be linked to output results.

• Only 12 uses of the term ‘maternal’ in the entire document/some of those in the references.

o Importance of specific nutrients for women trying to conceive/no mention of pre-conception/taking into consideration and supporting the health and nutrition requirements of those trying to conceive.

o Importance of access to a balanced and nutrient-rich diet for breastfeeding mothers to ensure their babies also get the nutrients they require.

• No reference to premature babies yet 1 in every 10 children in the world is born premature/prematurity is the world’s single biggest cause of newborn death, and the second leading cause of all child deaths, after pneumonia.

o Nutrition is an important factor in ensuring optimum long-term growth, neurodevelopment, and other health outcomes for premature babies.

o Climate change and premature births: emerging evidence suggests that climate change is also associated with a multitude of maternal and birth outcomes, such as the risk of infertility, miscarriage, Caesarean-section, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, and poor infant development.

o New studies from across the globe have found that the climate crisis is damaging the health of fetuses, babies, and children – from higher climate temperatures linked to preterm birth, and wildfires doubling the risk of birth defects, to the reduction of fertility linked to air pollution. Climate change is also accelerating mosquito-borne infectious diseases, like malaria and Zika, which affect fetal health and development.

• Breast Milk Substitute (BMS)

o P.34 refers to “Breastfeeding’s inherent relationship with commerciallyproduced infant formula.” What is meant by 'inherent relationship,' and is this backed by science.

o There is little evidence to support the usual conflation made between so-called aggressive BMS marketing practices and low breastfeeding.

o References to improved breastfeeding rates in certain countries (e.g., pg.35) needs additional context, as well as references to lower rates elsewhere in order to help people understand the factors that influence breastfeeding rates.

o Practices vary significantly between food manufacturers (see page 66) which is not taken into account- as all are lumped together.

o There is no recognition of the fact that infant formula is the only safe and suitable breastmilk substitute recognized by the WHO and other governing bodies when breastfeeding is not possible or an option.

• Land inequality and resilience

o P.46 – on land inequality surprisingly notes that large scale acquisition is only linked to ‘corporate entities and international investors’. As the cited source shows, some deals are done through governments, governmental agencies or entities controlled by states.

• Agroecology o Agroecology is one approach, among others, to contribute to feeding sustainably a growing population and support countries in achieving SDGs and as such, it is startling to see it is the only agriculture approach mentioned as a structural reformation approach with implications for equity.

o This assumption is not well aligned with CFS Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition, nor with reality. As such, we trust this view will not be included in the subsequent drafts.

o This report should consider the work that the FAO has done on climate-smart agriculture, among other approaches. and the World Bank

• Informal sector

This section would benefit from the CFS work on linking smallholders to markets; namely, supporting value chain development that links smallholder farmers, and the informal food production sector, directly to the formal food processing and packaging sector thus providing smallholder farmers’ increased income, improving the accessibility of local & traditional food supply whilst improving and safeguarding food safety and nutritional value of foods. While it is important to acknowledge the informal sector as a reality within the agrifood system, its limits and challenges should also be explored. The text currently seems to only highlight the positive aspects.

o On page 57, it is said that research has found that women farmers lost control when milk was sold to chilling plants, however, this should not be the rationale to discourage farmers to sell milk to formal processors if they can.

o On page 65, informal markets are described as very good solutions for the poor, however, it is more beneficial to discuss the sustainable market models we should work towards, rather than concluding that the present situation works for the poor. All consumers should have access to safe, quality foods at prices they can afford, both poor and not so poor, and we have to find ways of including all informal smallholder producers into such formal systems.

o Smallholder farmers that are not connected to or have access to the formal market, will always have challenges and remain small, not knowing if they can sell their produce from one day to the next.

o Inequalities between farmers that are part of formal value chains and farmers that are not, can be reduced by linking producers in the informal market to processors, retailers, aggregators and markets in the formal sector.

Concluding Remarks

The PSM thanks the HLPE and CFS for this opportunity and their consideration of the present input on the V0 of the Report for purposes of improving the final report. We look forward to participating in the CFS Reducing Inequalities Workstream in collaboration with all CFS multistakeholders to promote effective CFS outputs and outcomes.