The Private Sector Could be a Powerful Force in the Global Fight Against Malnutrition

By Kathrine Madsen

In a number of African countries, annual costs from the consequences of child undernourishment, can amount to as much as 17% of national GDP. Insufficient energy intake, along with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, lead to conditions such as underweight, stunted growth, and anaemia, making severe malnutrition one of the largest culprits in terms of child deaths. Those children who do live often carry these conditions into adulthood, continuing to suffer from consequences that are then frequently passed onto the next generation. But the consequences are far-reaching: prevalent undernutrition puts extreme strain on public health systems and significantly reduces individuals’ cognitive and physical capacity to learn and work. Such conditions are associated with poorer educational outcomes and lower productivity and incomes relative to non-affected populations, making it increasingly difficult to break the vicious cycle. While major progress has been made in the fight against malnutrition, there is still a strong need to innovate and scale up successful programmes, especially to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of ending global malnutrition by 2030.

Bottom of the pyramid (BoP) populations are both the most vulnerable to malnutrition and the hardest to reach. Despite this, they represent an enormous market: estimated at $429 billion annually, the BoP is the dominant consumer market of the Africa region by both size and collective purchasing power. Over half of BoP household spending goes into food, however, large knowledge gaps, misinformation, and unclear or missing labelling often lead to consumption of less nutritious foods. Poor access to and availability of product quantities at an affordable price point further prevent BoP consumers from purchasing nutritious products, although they are both able and ready to pay more for the nutritious products they value.

Read the full article on Business Day.

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