The firm said it plans to "dramatically" increase its focus on the area, which has been identified as the second fastest global market for nutritional products. To this end, Fortitech has teamed up with AB Mauri, a division of Associated British Foods, to distribute its nutrient premixes in the region. According to the company, AB Mauri was chosen because of its "impressive" geographic coverage and "deep knowledge-base" of the African market. Fortitech's vitamin and mineral premixes are primarily used in functional beverages, where energy drinks draw the largest share of the company's business. In North America, these popular products are marketed for both sports nutrition and as a lifestyle accessory. The move into the African market will see Fortitech taking different approaches in an effort to increase awareness of fortified foods and beverages. The company also said it expects to identify new business potential in the "dynamic region". According to general manager of Fortitech Europe Martin Austin, the company expects the new agreement will allow it to grow business "exponentially". The company said it plans to combine AB Mauri's knowledge of the African market together with its own experience in nutrient premixes to capitalize on the growing consumer demand for fortified products in the region. Africa, which is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world, is emerging as an attractive new market for food and ingredient companies so far primarily focused on the western world. According to figures cited by Fortitech, the nutrition industry overall in Africa totaled roughly $1.2bn in 2006 - a 16 percent increase from 2005. Additionally, Africa had the second-fastest growing market for nutritional products in 2006, second only to Russia. Fortitech and AB Mauri will be exhibiting their products at the Food Ingredients Africa trade show this month. The show, which is taking place for the first time, will bring together executives in the food and food ingredient industry to examine new products specifically targeting the African market. Another approach to the African continent taken by some players in the food industry has been in the form of nutritional assistance. According to WFP and UNAIDS, between 3.8 and 6.4 million people have required or will require aid with nutrition over the 2006 to 2008 period. At $1.1bn, the cost for bringing this nutritional support represents a mere two percent of the total $55bn that UNAIDS estimates is needed to address the needs of malnutrition. Nutritional ingredients firm DSM, undertakes such assistance as part of its sustainability platform - which provides crucial help, but could also boost the company's profile with ethically-motivated consumers. In March last year, the Dutch company formed an official partnership with the World Food Program. Through its Nutrition Improvement Program (NIP), DSM provides technical and scientific support for supplementation programs, as well as for the fortification of staple foods with vitamins and minerals. For example, it devised the 'nutritious rice kernel' - through patented technology - which is a highly fortified version of a normal grain of rice.