By: Talking Nutrition Editors
Inadequate nutrition can have a major, long-lasting impact on human health and growth. Nutrient deficiencies relate to a wide range of issues, including physical and mental stunting in children, which can limit an individual’s development, as well as the social and economic growth of a country. However, as population levels worldwide continue to rise, combined with unsustainable production processes, unrealistic demands are now being placed on our natural resources to support adequate food production.
To address malnutrition in all forms, and enable sustainable and healthy diets for individuals globally, integrated nutrition strategies are essential. For example, it is important that the world should pay more attention to preventative health and nutrition education, reducing income inequality, protecting farmer livelihoods and promoting economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests eco-systems. For people to flourish now and in the future, we must rebuild our food systems to provide nutrition for all within planetary boundaries as reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The global food system must operate within boundaries for human health and food production to ensure healthy diets for nearly 10 billion people by 2050. However, the way we currently produce and consume our food does not support this. There are three key reasons why we need to rethink the way our food systems work:
The global food system is complex, so change will take time, dedication and collaboration to make the necessary improvements. There are however many ways in which key stakeholders in the nutrition industry, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can positively change our food systems. These are interventions can be made at a grass roots level, such as changing consumer behavior and food patterns, but also by food producers: making healthier diets more accessible and affordable, ensuring sustainable food production and reducing food loss and waste.
Developing food products made of ingredients that have been sourced or farmed in a sustainable manner also helps to promote better food systems. In fact, businesses are vital in driving more sustainable supply chains and forging a net-zero future. DSM, for example, has committed to enable a double-digit on-farm reduction of livestock emissions by 2030. By changing the feed that animals eat every day, DSM will enable a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in dairy production, a 30% reduction in ammonia emissions from swine farming, and a 30% reduction in phosphorus emissions from poultry farming.
From a consumer perspective, one can put change into motion by requesting information and purchasing the most sustainable food and nutrition alternatives. As a result, food and beverage companies must demonstrate that they source their products responsibly and increase the transparency of their supply chains to win consumer hearts and minds.
A healthy, balanced diet, with all necessary nutrients, is not always achievable, particularly in countries with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. Fortified food and staples can offer a safe, easy-to-use and affordable solution that can help to mitigate deficiencies and fill micronutrient gaps in vulnerable populations at risk of, or affected, by deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Already, we are seeing the significance of fortified staples, such as fortified rice and multiple micronutrient powders, many of which are actively encouraged by governments across the globe to support the lives and health of children and citizens.
In fact, as part of our recently announced food system commitments, DSM is committed to helping fill the micronutrient gap of 800 million people by 2030. Fortified staple foods and health supplements that deliver a proven and cost-effective method of combating malnutrition will be key to achieving this aim; as well as empowering consumers to achieve healthier diets.
Food and nutrition companies have a huge opportunity and responsibility to change the way we grow, source, develop and provide food and beverages to keep people and the planet healthy. They have the innovation and technical expertise needed to combat malnutrition in all forms.
As a science-based, purpose-led and performance-driven company that aims to create a positive societal impact, DSM has the capability and the responsibility to change food systems for the better, aligned with the UN’s SDGs envisaging a future with Zero Hunger and Net Zero Emission Agriculture. Our food system commitments put particular emphasis on Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 12 and 13). In order to achieve these goals, DSM counts on continuously bringing new innovations for food nutrition and feed to the market – aiming to support healthier diets, support farmer livelihoods and reduce loss and waste – all while being produced to the highest sustainability standards.
Collaboration is key. To deliver the targets by 2030, we must bring together all stakeholders throughout the food and nutrition value chain to rally for food security, nutrition and sustainable and regenerative agriculture. This means that food and nutrition brands, governments, NGOs, as well as farmers, must partner to accelerate the actions required to create food systems that will deliver for all people globally; together, making healthier and sustainable food choices easier.
At DSM we have strong existing relationships with the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, GAIN, World Vision, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sight & Life Foundation and Scaling Up Nutrition, as well as scientists and business partners, working together towards a brighter future for all.
As a purpose-led global science-based leader in health, nutrition and bioscience, DSM is committed to achieving a positive societal impact. From protecting good health and providing plant and animal-based proteins, to enabling sustainable farming methods and improving nutrition in vulnerable communities, DSM’s recent food system commitments represent an ambitious step to making the business’ societal impact explicit and measurable to ensure accessible, affordable, healthy nutrition and healthy livelihoods within our planet’s boundaries.
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13 October 2021
5 min read
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