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90 percent of Nigeria’s processed food will be fortified by 2020 – Dangote, others pledge

processed food

Food processors in Nigeria have expressed commitment towards achievement of 90 percent fortification of processed food in the country by 2020.

In 2018 when the Nigeria Food Processing and Nutrition Leadership Forum was first held, the level of fortification in processed foods was 50 percent, and has now increased to 75 percent, following a year of strategic efforts towards the goal of food fortification in Nigeria. A target of 90 percent has now been set before the forum reconvenes next year.

Aliko Dangote, president/CEO, Dangote Group, and vice-chair (Private sector) of the Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Council, disclosed this while briefing journalists yesterday after a closed-door meeting of leading food processors in Nigeria.

The meeting, which was co-convened by Dangote, had participation of Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who was said to have joined the earlier closed door meeting via video conferencing, and also in attendance were Adeniyi Adebayo, minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; and Osagie Ehanire, minister of health.

The forum sought to sustain momentum on food fortification and compliance to standards, which currently targets; edible oil, salt, sugar, and wheat flour. The goal is however, for every processed food in Nigeria to be fortified, including rice, a widely consumed staple by millions of Nigerians.

While the ‘big food processors’, which had some of their CEOs in attendance at the meeting have expressed their commitment to increasing the volume of fortified food in Nigeria, Dangote stressed that “regulatory agencies should not only focus on the big ones but also the smaller companies.” This, he said is to ensure that the smaller players who together account for substantial share in the food market, are also complying with the stipulated standards for the benefit of all Nigerians.

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The fortification of processed food is a way of addressing micronutrient deficiencies in diets, ensuring processed food can deliver specific nutrients required for good health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Micronutrient malnutrition (MNM) can affect all age groups, but young children and women of reproductive age tend to be among those most at risk of developing micronutrient deficiencies.

As explained by Osagie, fortifying food with vitamins and other essential nutrients vital to the health of Nigerians, will particularly contribute to the development of healthy children.

According to data presented by the international non-governmental organization TechnoServe, a number of companies have significantly improved their compliance with food fortification standards since commitments they made at last year’s forum. Among six of the leading producers of staple foods in Nigeria, the proportion of adequately fortified wheat flour increased from 58 percent to 74 percent; fortified edible oil increased from 63 percent to 75 percent; fortified sugar increased from 32 percent to 84 percent; and salt iodization levels are maintained at nearly 100 percent. Together, these producers account for 90 percent or more of the production volume of these foods—except for edible oil, for which they represent closer to 40 percent of the production volume.