This past year has been one of the worst in recent memory for global food security. The lethal combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate threats, global conflicts, and rising food prices has resulted in an unprecedented food crisis, and threatened the food security of millions.
A person with food security must have “physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” When these standards are not met, it results in the stress and health hazards of food insecurity.
While food insecurity is an enormous problem, solutions are not just possible–they’re happening. Countless people around the world are working to help provide themselves and their communities with filling, nourishing food.
As we approach the end of 2022, we reflect on five posts from this past year that highlighted the most pressing challenges and solutions to this urgent problem.
Building a Resilient Food Supply Chain in Kenya
COVID-19 disrupted many aspects of the world as we know it, and supply chains were no exception. As international shipping grew more difficult, risky, and expensive, the immense importance of resilient, local supply chains became clear. This was true for Delish & Nutri, a Kenyan food processing firm that struggled with skyrocketing prices of imported peanuts during the pandemic.
Delish & Nutri, an innovative food company founded in 2018 in Kiambu, Kenya, sells the first peanut powder to come available on the national market. An inexpensive protein source, peanut powder is an ideal product to help support the nutritional needs of bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers. However, more than 90% of Delish & Nutri’s raw material initially came from imported peanuts. This lack of local sourcing left them vulnerable to the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the company to pay 40% more for its peanuts.
TechnoServe set about identifying the supply challenges faced by the food processor and then went to the farming community to better understand what their constraints were to meet these market needs.
Fortifying Food in Nigeria
Today, UNICEF estimates that two million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition, along with 7% of women of childbearing age. Nigeria also loses an estimated $1.5 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to diminished productivity and increased health care costs caused by malnutrition.
Fortifying staple foods with essential vitamins and minerals is one of the most effective ways of improving a population’s nutrition. However, while Nigeria has food fortification regulations, many companies are challenged with the implementation of these standards.
In 2018, TechnoServe joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to address this issue through its work with 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.
Understanding the business needs of the Nigerian companies producing the fortified foods, TechnoServe set to work on a private sector approach to supporting their fortification efforts. In addition to tailored technical guidance on fortification, TechnoServe promoted an industry-wide effort to improve fortification practices, drawing company executives together along with Nigerian government leaders.
To further encourage self-sustaining progress on companies’ food fortification, TechnoServe developed the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI), an online tool that allows food processing companies to publicly report and track levels of staple food fortification, in addition to other quality system metrics.
In addressing the business leaders present at the Fourth Annual Nigeria Food Processing and Leadership Forum, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said, “I’m happy to see that together we are demonstrating that when companies champion their role in delivering healthy food for consumers, this also delivers good business outcomes.”
How Food Processing Can Combat the Global Food Crisis
As high prices and disrupted supply chains threaten food security worldwide, food processing companies offer a critical solution in low-income countries. They not only serve as an important market for smallholder farmers–and thus a pathway out of poverty–but a supplier of safe, nutritious food to consumers.
Helping these companies fortify their food products with essential vitamins and minerals is also one of the most effective ways of improving nutrition at scale. This is especially important at times like the present, when many people may struggle to afford adequate food.
You can separate fact from fiction when it comes to food processing–and learn how this sector plays a key role in improving food security worldwide.
How the Global Food Crisis is Affecting Africa
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has worsened food insecurity around the world. Nowhere is the crisis more acute than in Africa, where nearly 60% of the population already faced moderate or severe food insecurity, the highest proportion in the world.
The cost of food–which already made up roughly 40% of the average African household budget–has climbed a shocking 80% in just two years. And fertilizer prices have increased by 30% since the start of the year, after an 80% surge just the year before.
We asked TechnoServe’s three Africa regional directors for their take on the impact on the ground; the outlook for the future; and any potential upsides to the growing food crisis.
Test Your Knowledge of the Global Food Crisis
Record food and fertilizer prices are spurring food insecurity around the world. While nearly 200 million people suffered acute food insecurity in 2021, that number was expected to sharply increase this year. Take our quiz to learn surprising facts about global food insecurity and how this issue is linked to fighting poverty.