Food & Beverage Asia Oct/Nov 2020

ON THE TABLE 32 FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2020 NUTRITION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME Can you elaborate more on the Nutrition Improvement Programme, and how will this initiative support the building of a food system that feeds and nourishes the growing population? Anand Sundaresan: As a company that delivers innovative business solutions across nutrition, health and sustainable living, DSM prides itself as a global partner in the fight against micronutrient deficiencies, also known as hidden hunger. Through our Nutrition Improvement activities, we marry scientific expertise and innovative power to provide high-quality, yet affordable and innovative nutritional solutions across the world. Prior to the pandemic, the United Nations (UN) has already estimated that at least 64.7 million people in South East Asia alone are undernourished. As a result of the mass disruption to supply chains and reduced access to safe, nutritious food caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent precautionary measures, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts that millions more across the region will be at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger. Malnutrition is the single largest contributor to disease globally; micronutrient deficiencies can have a detrimental impact on a person’s health, significantly impairing the immune response to infection and endangering public health as whole. Wider society will also be affected with increased public costs, decreased work capacity in populations, and a tragic loss of human potential. To meet our goal to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030 and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of Good Health and Wellbeing, urgent and sustainable action is needed. Considering this, we believe that everyone should have access to a nutritious and affordable diet to enable a healthy, functioning society, both now and in the future. Within our Nutrition Improvement Programme in Asia, we work closely with partners including UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WEP), FAO, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), in addition to local governments and organisations to increase access to safe, healthy and affordable solutions, such as the fortification of staple foods and development of micronutrient powders which can optimise the nutritional levels of our communities. For example, in Indonesia, we are working with the Indonesia Bureau of Logistics (BULOG) to make fortified rice accessible to the local population to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. Similarly, in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam, amongst others, we have targeted supplementation programmes through the distribution of micronutrient powders, fortified blended foods or lipid-based nutritional supplements to reduce the impact of malnutrition and hidden hunger. In doing so, we believe that such interventions will improve nutrition levels, and enable a healthy and functioning society for all. FOOD FORTIFICATION How do you see food fortification, as a process, fit into today’s food system, and what are the challenges and economic incentives on food fortification? Sundaresan: Focusing on nutrient-rich foods and a well-balanced diet is the best way to obtain desired nutrients. However, this may not always be possible, especially for vulnerable populations who may be unable to access a diversified diet and the recommended levels of micronutrients. This can put them at risk of disease and infections, posing a significant health risk to their communities, who may not have access to essential healthcare. The United Nations has called for urgent action on the impact of COVID-19 on malnutrition, which threatens the livelihoods of millions worldwide. Fortification is known as a public health strategy to improve the nutrition status of populations, but the acceptance of this technology is of various pace. Anand Sundaresan, regional vice-president human nutrition and health, DSM Nutritional Products, tells more to Food & Beverage Asia . Food fortification for better health and nutrition