Food & Beverage Asia Oct/Nov 2020

FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2020 ON THE TABLE 33 Food fortification of staple foods such as wheat flour and rice are recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective, scalable and low-cost solution to improve levels of nutrition at a societal level, particularly amongst vulnerable populations, thus supporting immune health and protecting against future health risks. Although the efficacy of food fortification in addressing malnutrition is widely recognised, efforts in scaling fortification in rice have not kept up with the rising levels of malnutrition in the region. Recognising the role fortification can play, we have an ongoing partnership with the WFP, amongst other humanitarian organisations, to end malnutrition. The partnership has supported 39.4 million people in 2017 alone, a figure equivalent to 1% of the global population. Can you also share more on DSM’s advancement in rice fortification – why is rice particularly chosen, and how will thus further transform the traditional rice supply chain? Sundaresan: DSM does not only fortify rice but other food products too, such as flour, bouillon cubes, sugar, amongst others. Each of these products are staples across different regions of the world, and through fortification, can help ensure essential micronutrients are included into the everyday diets of large populations. Rice is the primary staple crop for approximately half the global population and provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, and is an especially popular product in Asia. However, most of the nutritional value of rice is lost during the milling of the kernels, meaning that milled rice is not a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals. Historically, rice fortification methods like dusting and coating have proved ineffective in retaining micronutrients, especially in countries and communities that prepare rice by frequent washing, or soaking and cooking it in excess water. Advancements in R&D in technology have enabled us to create fortified rice by using a method of hot extrusion. This method is considered the most robust method of rice fortification as nutrients are safely “locked in” in each grain at the end of the fortification process. Furthermore, the end of product looks, cooks, and tastes just the same as its unfortified counterpart, making it widely accepted amongst consumers. How is DSM leveraging on technology to enhance nutrition values in its solutions? Sundaresan: DSM’s goal is to create brighter lives for all, using science to create solutions for people today and generations to come. Considering this, our R&D process is geared towards creating solutions that are sustainable and scalable. We do this so that we can help answer some of the world’s biggest and most pressing challenges while supporting business growth for our employees, customers, shareholders, and society at large. For some of the challenges we face as a society, solutions already exist to help build a healthier and more sustainable future. Within the food science sector, DSM is proud to be a partner in the development and scaling of rice fortification technology to overcome the challenges associated with malnutrition, helping to improve public health on a larger scale. Similarly, advances in technology have allowed us to distribute micronutrient powders in low- and middle- income countries at an affordable price to supplement the nutritional gaps of communities. However, to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 2 of Zero Hunger and SDG 3 of Good Health and Wellbeing, we must continue to harness innovative solutions for improved nutrition in local food systems. In Singapore, we have partnered with Padang & Co. to launch the Bright Science & Technology Innovation Hub, a collaborative workspace designed to enable the co-creation of solutions which tackle Asia-Pacific’s nutritional, health and sustainability challenges. The hub, which aims to connect technology start- ups, entrepreneurs, and other ecosystem partners, also provides members access to DSM’s network, technical expertise and laboratories to help build their capabilities and foster innovation. Through such initiatives, we will continue to drive the Rice is the staple food of Asia