By: Talking Nutrition Editors
Picture a world free from hunger, where everyone, everywhere, can fulfil their potential. The United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development is determined to make this future a reality, eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030. Why? Because almost a third of the world’s population suffer from hidden hunger, a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals.
The impact of micronutrient deficiencies is particularly severe for women and children, especially in lower- and middle-income countries.i However, hidden hunger knows no boundaries and affects a significant number of women in high-income countries too. Shockingly, half of preschool-aged children and two-thirds of non-pregnant women of reproductive age have micronutrient deficiencies, which can lead to severe consequences for health.2 As such, there is an urgent need to scale-up access to healthy diets for all.
Our global food systems are facing substantial challenges from climate change, conflict and political unrest – putting pressure on food security and jeopardizing the achievement of the United Nations’ 2030 targets.ii So, how can we improve the resilience of our food systems to bridge micronutrient gaps worldwide?
Last month, the dsm-firmenich team ventured to The Hague, Netherlands, for the Micronutrient Forum 6th Global Conference 2023. This marked the first hybrid meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic, and we were delighted to participate in-person. We have been proud supporters and attendees of this event since its creation in 2006. This year’s theme, ‘Nutrition for Resilience’, signifies a crucial step toward advancing agendas that promote nutrition and strengthen population resilience in the face of mounting challenges.
We collaborated with experts and leaders from around the world to align priorities and action plans, urgently accelerating progress towards zero hunger, the second Sustainable Development Goal. Our booth was bustling with delegates eager to explore nutrition solutions for mothers and young children, as well as staple food fortification. Visitors were keen to sample our Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (MMS), Micronutrient Powders (MNPs) and fortified rice solutions, including a Vice Minister of the government of Peru.
At our booth, we stressed the importance of MMS and MNPs for mothers and infants above six months of age. Micronutrient deficiencies often worsen throughout pregnancy due to the increased need for these vital nutrients to support both maternal health and fetal development. MMS are specially tailored to meet the nutritional needs of expectant mothers, providing 15 essential micronutrients that are scientifically proven to benefit the overall health of mothers and infants. On the other hand, MNPs consist of powdered vitamins and minerals designed to enhance the nutritional profile of foods, and are proven to support optimal growth and development in infants over six months of age and children.
During the conference, we had the privilege of hosting a symposium session with leading partners on the power of innovation in building sustainable and resilient food systems. During the session, we explored pioneering policy solutions and investments to scale-up progress towards zero hunger, and were delighted to see so many participants attending, both in person and virtually.
At dsm-firmenich, we actively champion innovative and sustainable business models that center high-quality and cost-effective nutrition interventions to help bridge the global micronutrient gap. One way we’ve harnessed innovation to tackle malnutrition is the development of hot extrusion technology to fortify rice kernels. This is a robust and cost-effective method of adding vitamins and minerals to rice – as well as other nutrients like fiber and amino acids – to enhance the overall nutritional value of the product. Beyond fortification, we also support partners through formulation innovations, roll-out support, compliance advisory and more.
The Micronutrient Forum 2023 marked the launch of a new industry-led coalition, Millers for Nutrition, with a mission to reach one billion people worldwide with adequately fortified rice, edible oil and flour by 2026. Currently active in eight countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania, this coalition champions food fortification as a viable solution to address hidden hunger. It encourages millers from Africa and Asia to join the union and commit to improving the nutritional quality of their food through fortification. Members gain access to free technical training, business advice, product testing support, as well as online tools and resources. We are proud to be one of many founding partners of this cross-sector partnership.
The Micronutrient Forum 2023 was a huge success in driving momentum to scale-up access to nutritious food worldwide. Our team is feeling inspired by the many positive conversions, interactions and important learnings from the Forum and is already looking forward to the next event. During the closing ceremony, a Way Forward Statement was presented on behalf of over 50 global experts from research, academia, program and policy institutions. The statement comprises six actions designed to safeguard nutrition and health in the face of unprecedented crises. To conclude the event, Katharina Stenholm, Chief Sustainability Officer at dsm-firmenich, emphasized the role of innovation and the private sector in tackling malnutrition. We’re committed to bringing progress to life through both innovative nutritional solutions and a wide variety of collaborations and partnerships.
20 November 2023
4 min read
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