According to Bruno Kistner, secretariat for the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN), public and private partnerships are crucial to ensure the issue is treated as a business case.
By involving private sector acumen, not only can fortification be tailored to the products people already eat, but it also opens up new and nutrition-friendly revenue streams, he said.
And by employing a business case to distribute the products, the recipients are viewed not as low-income individuals receiving donated nutritious products, but as potential consumers instead.
“Don’t treat the poor person as a recipient of poor donation, treat him as a consumer,” Kistner said.
“A poor consumer is still a consumer. So if we can come up with interesting business cases wherein a consumer sees value in a product which is very nutritious, that would be ideal.”
Food fortification is the most cost-effective way to deliver nutrition, but the much-needed nutrients must be placed into food vehicles that people already consume, he added.
“You can put the nutrition in flour, rice or milk – the foods that they are used to consume, and it doesn’t change the taste or appearance of those foods. That is why food fortification is a suitable vehicle to deliver nutrition,” Kistner said.
And this is where AroFIIN can help, he added. The association was set up in 2015 to seek ways of leveraging public-private partnership and bring together experts from academia, government, industry and civil society sectors to tackle nutrition shortfalls via partnerships, not donations.
“You might donate today, and tomorrow you won’t because you ran out of money,” he added.
“But business cases are sustainable, and that is the whole idea.”
Asia’s nutrition challenges will be discussed in detail at next week's Food Vision Asia summit in Singapore, where AroFIIN will meet on the final day. Find out more here