Fighting Hidden Hunger

Providing nutrition for the most vulnerable


Good nutrition is essential for a good start in life. It’s the foundation of good health. But today, some two billion people1 suffer from ‘hidden hunger’ - also known as malnutrition - where, despite getting enough calories, the diet lacks essential vitamins and minerals.


For pregnant women and infants, getting sufficient micronutrients is especially crucial. This is particularly true in the critical first 1,000 days, where it lays the foundations for a future in which children grow up capable of making a true difference in their communities thanks to a good physical and cognitive development.

Which is why for decades, DSM’s Nutrition Improvement team has been committed to achieving a brighter future for everyone through both innovative nutritional solutions and a wide variety of collaborations and partnerships.

Helping children reach their potential

Poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths in children under five2 - amounting to about 3 million young lives lost each year2 worldwide. But its effects run even deeper.

Chronic malnutrition early in life leads to stunting (being short for one’s age), which is irreversible and affects not only the body but the brain. Globally, some 155 million children2 suffer from this condition. It affects their ability to learn and perform at school; their earning potential and work opportunities into adulthood; and it makes them more vulnerable to various non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

As the leading science-based supplier of vitamins, carotenoids and nutritional lipids, DSM is addressing this problem by fortifying and supplementing the diets of people in most affected areas, like Africa, Asia and Latin America.

We offer a broad portfolio of nutritional solutions to address the specific nutritional requirements of a variety of the world’s most at-risk populations. One of these solutions is micronutrient powders. These powders are designed for infants and children over 6 months of age and can be mixed directly into any ready-to-eat semi-solid food to boost the micronutrient content of the diet. They come in sachets of 1 to 9 grams in weight (depending on how many children you are feeding with one sachet) and they are addressing a broad range of physical and cognitive development needs that have far-reaching consequences.

Take Malawi in East Africa. According to the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition3, some 60% of its adults (4.5 million people) suffered from stunting as children. Around two thirds of these people earn their living from manual labor, but are unable to fulfill their economic and earning potential because of this physical affliction - representing an estimated US$67 million loss to the economy3.

At DSM we’ve aligned our strategy specifically with five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2016. Not surprisingly, nutrition is a vital precondition for achieving eight of the 17 SDGs - and our nutritional products and solutions in particular meet two of the most important goals of achieving:

Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages

Our partnership with the world’s largest humanitarian organization - the World Food Program (WFP) - has already nourished some 39.4 million people in 2017.  And our partnership with UNICEF has reached another 400,000 children in Nigeria4, Meanwhile, our investment with Africa Improved Foods (AIF) in a new food manufacturing plant in Rwanda will soon have the capacity to feed two million people.

The benefits of fighting hidden hunger and malnutrition speak for themselves: preventing malnutrition delivers at least US$16 return on investment for every US$1 spent. For example, well-nourished children are 33%5 more likely to escape the vicious cycle of poverty when they grow up.

One major challenge we’ve overcome is with rice fortification. Fortified rice kernels need to look and taste like rice as they are mixed with ordinary rice. The problem is that iron-rich forms are usually brown to grey in color - this does not look too appetising for the consumer.

So, our bright scientists came up with a solution to add other ingredients to the kernel that allow the iron to remain white, while interacting during the cooking process to make the iron more bioavailable. Thus, a win-win that meets the need of people for white rice and the nutritional need to deliver iron. In fact, many major institutions now recommend this formulation in their rice fortification guidelines.

We cannot do it alone

No single organization can eliminate hidden hunger. DSM’s Nutrition Improvement team works in partnership with multi-sector partners including United Nation agencies like the World Food Programme and UNICEF, World Vision International, Vitamin Angels, Partners in Food Solutions and Africa Improved Foods. DSM’s nutrition partnerships aim to expand the scientific evidence base for targeted nutritional interventions; to increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition; and to introduce market-based solutions for making nutritious food products accessible to those who most need them.

Brighter Living

Everyone deserves a good start in life – and it starts with nutrition. By using our nutritional capabilities to make a positive contribution towards solving this global issue, we’ll continue our quest to create brighter lives for all.

1) S. Swaminathan et al., ‘Micronutrient deficiency and cognitive and physical performance in Indian children.’ Eur J Clin Nutr, Vol. 67, No. 5, 2013, p. 467-74.
2) Provided in original proof point materials sent from DSM Nutritional Products, source not indicated.
3) DSM, Sight & Life and UNICEF Partnership.
4) “The Cost of Hunger in Africa: The Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition in Malawi”.
5) The Copenhagen Consensus 2008.

Read more

  • Nutritional Sciences at DSM

    Nutritional Sciences create a wide range of nutritional solutions for both animals and humans covering vitamins, carotenoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, feed and food enzymes, eubiotics, and bioactive natural ingredients.

  • DSM Nutritional Products

    DSM Nutritional Products is one of the world’s leading producers of essential nutrients like vitamins, carotenoids and nutritional lipids; as well as solutions for the feed, food, pharmaceutical and personal care industries.

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer.

Learn more