Event: Impact of Food Fortification Compliance: A Case for Industrial Fortification

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Posted Wed, Aug 16, 2023 11:40 AM

Timeframe: Thu, Aug 31, 2023 10:00 AM - Thu, Aug 31, 2023 12:00 PM

The National Demographic Health Survey indicates that 37% of Nigerian children aged 6-59 months are stunted (short for their age), 7% are wasted (thin for their height), 22% are underweight (lean for their age), 12% of women aged 15-49 are thin (a body mass index [BMI] below 18.5), 68% of children aged 6-59 months and 58% of women aged 15-49 are anaemic. The World Bank reports that high vitamin and mineral deficiencies (MND) continue to depress the Nigerian GDP by more than US$1.5 billion annually via higher mortality and morbidity rates along with decreased productivity.

Furthermore, the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey presented the following findings: Fortification of essential foods like salt, margarine, and wheat flour virtually eliminated most MND in North America and Europe. More recently, fortification programs have reduced the prevalence of MND by 34%-74% in countries as diverse as Indonesia, South Africa, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Food fortification to control MND has been implemented in Nigeria for nearly three decades. Salt iodisation was made mandatory in 1992, and by 2005, coverage of iodised salt reached 98%, and rates of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) decreased dramatically. Recent surveys continue to show coverage greater than 90%, and IDD and iodine nutrition status remain adequate. Fortification of cooking oil and sugar with Vitamin A and flours with multiple micronutrients has been mandated since 2002. While the implementation was successfully initiated, compliance with Vitamin A standards ranged from 24% for vegetable oil, 29% for sugar and 25% for cereal flour. The national cost of full compliance with fortification standards for salt, oil, sugar and grain flours is estimated at ~$55 million annually, >1% relative to the range of key industry and consumer benchmarks. Based on an average of 11.68% annual food inflation, the added one-time price rise of 0.01%-1% can be easily absorbed in the marketplace (Global Hunger Index, World Food Program).

The success of iodine fortification, visible gaps in compliance and realising the potential human, social and economic benefits of food fortification for Nigeria will require renewed commitment and investment in food fortification by government agencies, private food companies, and international partners.

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