• Monday, April 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

TechnoServe recognises firms complying with food fortification requirement

TechnoServe recognises firms complying with food fortification requirement

To ensure that players in the food and agro-allied industry constantly fortify their products with essential micronutrients to tackle the burden of malnutrition in Africa’s biggest economy, TechnoServe – a non-governmental organisation has awarded firms improving in food fortification requirements.

The recognition of firms contributing immensely to food fortification was held recently at the second edition of the Micronutrients Fortification Index (MFI) awards during the 2023 Nigeria Agrofood and Plastprintpack conference in Lagos.

Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), Raffles, PZ Wilmar, Crown Flour Mills Olam and Dufil Foods are the firms whose products made the top 10 of the 2023 MFI and recognised by TechnoServe for their contribution to food fortification.

“Today we are recognising private companies that have adhered to fortification standards and maintained improved food fortification compliance levels,” said Adesuwa Akinboro, country director, TechnoServe.

She stated that large-scale food fortification is important, especially in a country with a population as large as Nigeria and with a high rate of malnutrition and under-nutrition, adding that it is one of the most cost-effective ways of ensuring it benefits a large population of people.

In explaining what MFI means, she said that the index is designed mainly to incentivize private sector companies to fortify their products for three main reasons – public recognition, providing a level playing field for all companies to ensure fortification compliance and incentivizing companies to improve and maintain high fortification standards.

She noted that TechnoServe through its market-based and industry-led Programme – Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF), worked with partners to redefine the unsatisfactory narrative of large-scale food fortification in the country.

According to her, SAPFF has since evolved into the Technical Assistance Acceleration Programme (TAAP) project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work with global supply chain partners in the food fortification space to create a platform for private-public partnerships that will drive sustainability of large-scale fortification.

She congratulated all the CEOs and private sector companies that received the awards for their hard work and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its financial support that has made the TAAP project and MFI awards possible.

Among the 10 top brands listed, five got recognition. FMN won the first and second positions with its – Classic All Purpose Flour and Golden Penny Prime Flour; Dufil Foods won the third position with its Power Oil and PZ Wilmar came fourth and fifth with its Devon King’s Oil and Mamador Oil.

Jeremie Zoungrana, director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the foundation believes that improving nutrition is one of the most effective tools to ensure that Nigeria’s 200 million people live a healthy and productive life.

“This is why we have heavily invested in fortification and nutrition incentives over the years with a growing focus on Nigeria,” he said.

“We have begun to see the impact on our investment in Nigeria, especially the MFI – which has made significant improvement in fortification practices and commitments,” he added.

He explained that MFI is an innovative mechanism developed by TechnoServe to support the food industry in self-regulating, thus improving fortification compliance. He commended all participating firms of the MFI initiative.

“You truly serve as a remarkable example of how food processors can effectively come together to advance strategy in an inclusive transparency in uplifting the wellbeing of Nigerians.”

Recognition was given to Golden Oil Industries and Sunola Foods Limited for emerging winners of the top trend awards for their consistent improvement.

Also speaking during the awards, Chris Ogbechie, a professor of strategic management and dean at Lagos Business School, said that some companies had embraced the MFI because they believe the approach will provide better outcomes and health for Nigerians.

He noted that LBS is glad to have supported the MFI initiative while urging companies to see fortification as a value addition and not as an expense.

One of the award recipients, Ashish Misra, managing director, SNF Foods Limited said the award is a fact that his organisation’s conscious effort to adhere to fortification and quality standards is recognized.

“This serves as a motivation to improve our quality management system and also embrace digitalization of quality assurance,” Misra said.

Larry Umunna, TechnoServe’s regional director for West Africa, said TechnoServe is an international organisation that believes in the power to transform lives.

He noted that Nigeria does not have good statistics when it comes to nutrition as about 22 percent of children under-five are stunted, adding that two out of every five children in Nigeria do not have access to quality nutritious food.

He stated that the private sector has a long way to play in ensuring that the country brings down undesirable statistics to the minimum.

The MFI is the most successful and accountable strategy for sustainability, noting that the country is the first to launch innovative ideas and Kenya is set to replicate the country’s success, he said.