Why it matters
Around one-third of the world’s population lacks essential vitamins and minerals (Global Nutrition Report). This can lead to serious health issues, such as impaired growth and physical and intellectual development, as well as compromised immunity.
It is estimated that by 2025, the health impacts of vitamin and mineral deficiency will cost society around USD 3.1 trillion (CHF 3.12 trillion) per year (Global Access to Nutrition Index (pdf, 6Mb)). Nestlé is helping tackle this by fortifying foods and beverages with micronutrients that are unavailable or lacking in local diets, focusing particularly on children and families in developing and high-priority countries.
What we are doing
In 2019, we focused our activities in our Zone AOA (Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa), running projects in eight countries. We continued to fortify relevant products with the micronutrients most commonly lacking in local diets. Read more about it in our 2019 progress report.
Demonstrating our commitment
Developing biofortification solutions
Biofortification of staple crops is a possible solution to the issue of micronutrient deficiencies. In the past four to five years, Nestlé has been trying to use more biofortified maize in cereal products in Nigeria.
However, there have been several challenges that prevent us from achieving our goal. For example, biofortified maize crops are susceptible to contamination by mycotoxins – toxic compounds produced by mold – and have to be rejected, as there can be no compromise on consumers’ health. We are working with suppliers and partners to solve this, but there is no quick fix to the systemic issue of mycotoxin contamination. We believe and hope that there will be a long-term solution, but it will take a few more years to achieve.
Besides our use of as much biofortified maize as is feasible, Nestlé is actively participating in workshops and other forums on biofortified crops, as well as other innovation and new products to address micronutrient deficiency.
The Big 4 micronutrients
- Iron for preventing iron deficiency anemia and maintaining cognitive and physical development.
- Iodine for optimal brain development and thyroid hormones for a healthy metabolism.
- Vitamin A for good eye health, growth and development, and a strong immune system.
- Zinc for growth and development, and a strong immune system.
Tackling iron deficiency in Sri Lanka
Thanks to our impressive national reach, the Sri Lanka government asked us for our help in combating iron deficiency, a significant issue among children and adults alike. In response, we implemented a series of multi-pronged initiatives across the country to raise awareness. This included supporting health professionals in the field and using chat bots to speak with consumers. In all, we estimate that we reached more than 13 million people through various media channels and one-on-one nutrition counseling, raising awareness of nutrient deficiency and suggesting solutions to this serious issue.