Dangote Sugar Refinery has won an award, ranking it as the leading sugar company with significant strides in institutionalising large-scale food fortification best practices.
This was as private sector operators in the food processing industries and government regulatory agencies pledged commitment towards achieving optimal levels in food fortification compliance at the recent 4th annual CEO Forum of food processing & nutrition leadership themed ‘ensuring improved health and nutrition through cross-sectoral leadership’.
The CEO Forum is the gathering of Nigerian food processors where critical and concerned players in the food processing, health and financing sectors appraise the food fortification situation in the country, which is meant to correct the present food system that has been linked to poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, unemployment etc.
Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group and chairman of the ADF, who chaired the meeting said food fortification was a health issue that members of the Forum were committed to complying with each of the foods their organisations manufacture in the interest of nutritional health of Nigerians.
He recalled how the Forum proposed to be converging periodically to assess how far the compliance has been and expressed happiness that the report for 2022 was an improvement on the previous report. He also urged members of the Forum to double their efforts to shore up compliance in the area where it is still below expectation.
He assured that there was no going back in achieving full micronutrient fortification compliance, especially in the pandemic era, to mitigate the effect of the virus.
Also speaking, Bill Gates, an American billionaire, commended the efforts of the Nigerian private sector involved in the food fortification process and the affected government agencies for rising up to the occasion to ensure that fortification compliance is achieved so that Nigerians could be immune to malnutrition.
He said his Foundation was happy to be involved in the task and urged all not to rest on their oars until full fortification compliance is achieved.
Giving the report of milestones and compliance trends covered by the Forum in 2021, Dominic Schofield of TechnoServe listed 14 companies covering 31 brands as having joined the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI) ranking for wheat flour, edible oil, sugar and salt.
Dangote Sugar was named among the four companies with substantial compliance in the four food categories, with others being Flour Mills, awarded in two categories and Raffles Oil LFTZ Enterprise.
The essence of the MFI ranking, Schofield explained, is that members of the public would have access to information about the fortification of the four staple foods and help encourage companies to meet their fortification targets.
He stated, “The recent implementation of pandemic-related border controls has enabled industrially-processed edible oil producers, adequately fortifying, to capture an increased market share and ensure wider consumer reach.
“The wheat flour sector demonstrably attempted to sustain compliance levels over the last year. Disrupted access to good quality Vitamin A, however, continues to pose a risk to good performance.
“With the promise of renewed focus; with opportunities to innovate in business processes and digitalisation that better integrate food fortification and foster trust, and with the commitment and collective action on the part of all food fortification stakeholders, Nigerian processors can get back to the levels of optimal compliance achieved prior to the pandemic.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who joined the meeting virtually from Abuja, expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to the Forum, especially the sponsors, for sustaining the food fortification efforts in the overall interest of Nigerians.