Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods

“Hidden hunger” is a form of undernutrition affecting millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Caused by micronutrient deficiencies, it has been linked to numerous health and development issues. Food fortification is a cost-effective strategy for addressing hidden hunger. The Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods Project helps food companies in Africa to improve their capacity to produce and sell fortified foods for local markets, and provide consumers the nutrition they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

Context

“Hidden hunger” is a form of undernutrition affecting millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Caused by micronutrient deficiencies, it has been linked to numerous health and development issues. Food fortification is a cost-effective strategy for addressing hidden hunger, helping people to access the nutrition they need. The Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods Project (SAPFF) builds upon the partnership between Partners in Food Solutions and TechnoServe, and aims to help food companies in Africa to improve their capacity to produce and sell fortified foods for local markets.

Children suffering from hidden hunger are at risk of delayed cognitive development and other health risks that reduce a person’s productive capacity. These effects can continue into adulthood, increasing risk of perpetuation, and prohibiting generations from leading healthy, productive lives. Although national programs supported by development partners have emerged across sub-Saharan Africa since 2002 to promote the fortification of staple foods, their struggle to meet compliance standards has limited their impact. By increasing compliance, the SAPFF Project will increase access to nutrients, and ensure the maximum impact of these activities by focusing on key food staples, such as wheat and maize flour, edible oils, sugar and salt. These fortified products have the scope and scale to make a large impact, especially for base-of-the-pyramid consumers, allowing them to leave the cycle of malnutrition and live healthy, productive lives.

Opportunity

Food fortification, in which essential micronutrients are added during food processing, has been widely identified as a cost-effective strategy for addressing micronutrient malnutrition at scale. In sub-Saharan Africa, hidden hunger affects millions of people. In these nations, combating undernutrition through food fortification is critical for long-term development, and many countries across the region mandate fortification in food processing. However, the effectiveness of these mandates is frequently undermined by inadequate compliance, often due to technical challenges and ineffective regulatory monitoring to ensure a level playing field which would allow processors to absorb and transfer the marginal costs for fortification and compliance with no commercial disincentive.

The Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) Project takes a holistic approach to addressing those technical challenges and works to strengthen the enabling environment that promotes the competitive, healthy and effective production of fortified foods.

The four-year, $10 million initiative is a partnership between TechnoServe and Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) – a nonprofit organization that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees from General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Bühler, Ardent Mills, and The Hershey Company. Utilizing a market-based approach, it will help food companies in Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania to increase the availability of nutritious foods by improving their capacity to produce and sell fortified foods for local markets.

Strategy

The SAPFF Project will focus on two major components of the food fortification market as a means to catalyzing lasting change in the sector:

1. Strengthening the ability of food processors to comply with fortification standards.

The project will work hand in hand with multiple stakeholders to build their capacity to fortify foods. The project will harness more than 16,000 hours of expert advice from employee volunteers at Partners in Food Solutions’ member companies, leveraging the unique industry expertise of PFS’s processing experts. Customized technical assistance will be provided to at least 94 processors throughout the three countries where the project will operate, and shorter trainings will be provided to 200 additional companies. The technical assistance will not only cover topics directly related to food fortification, but will also help companies to adopt good business and manufacturing practices that enable them to fortify their products in the most cost-effective manner and improve their profitability.

2. Supporting the fortification enabling environment.

In order to create a market environment in which food fortification can sustainably improve access to nutrients, the SAPFF Project will engage with government ministries, industry associations and nonprofit organizations to deepen cooperation and forge new partnerships between stakeholders. It will also leverage the local knowledge, experience and relationships of organizations currently working in food fortification. The SAPFF project will aim to maintain close coordination with other key agencies and align the objectives of SAPFF with complementary initiatives. The project will also support and strengthen communication channels, and improve critical ecosystem support points such as government monitoring and enforcement, laboratory testing and consumer advocacy.

Results

The program will provide technical assistance to at least 94 processors throughout Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, and shorter trainings will be provided to 200 additional companies.

Partners

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

Partners in Food Solutions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees from General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Bühler, Hershey, and Ardent Mills to small and growing food processors and millers in the developing world.

TechnoServe is an international nonprofit that works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. TechnoServe directs all on-the-ground implementation for the Alliance, identifying and partnering with food processors, government, and private sector bodies, linking their challenges to technical experts within PFS and supporting their business, technical, and training needs.