Businesses both shape and respond to consumer demand.
Understanding what consumers want to eat and why is one of the most complex aspects of creating demand for nutritious foods. Consumer preferences and motivations are tied to personal, cultural, and religious beliefs; they are influenced by geography, income and gender; and they shape and are shaped by identity.
So how can public private engagement (PPE) help address some of the barriers that prevent consumers from regularly purchasing and consuming nutritious foods? What research is needed to better understand consumer attitudes, preferences and behaviours? What can the private sector do to make healthy food more appealing, convenient and affordable? What can policymakers do promote nutrition education, and help ensure that everyone – regardless location or income level – can access and afford the safe and nutritious foods they want? How can civil society help create momentum behind consumer interest campaigns, and hold businesses and governments accountable? How can donors help de-risk investments in nutritious food businesses while demand – and the market to support it – grows?
The resources in this section will help to address these questions, and explore ways in which the public and private sectors can empower consumers to demand nutritious and safe food, as well as approaches to promote food that is affordable, available and desirable.
Top resources we think matter
This initiative was led by a partnership among between Michigan State University, the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Mozambique, the Southern African Root Crops Research Network, the Ministry of Health, World Vision, Helen Keller International to improve agricultural outcomes for farmers and nutritional outcomes for under-fives. By introducing orange flesh sweet potatoes (OFSP), which are both a drought-resistant crop and a good source of energy and Vitamin A. The project had a three step approach: 1) Introduction of a new source of vitamin A and energy, with training on production and storage techniques. 2) Demand creation and empowerment through knowledge, including radio campaigns, theatre performances and group learning sessions on feeding practices, hygiene, and dietary diversity. 3) Market development for OFSP roots and processed products, which linked farmers to traders and informed consumers about where they can purchase OFSP.
By using a public-private engagement approach, links to markets with adequate consumer demand encouraged greater production, which stimulated their income as well as benefited additional customers. Demand for OFSP was expected to continue if profitable opportunities to process OSFP were created. Overall, the scale and impact of this study was relatively limited but most importantly, Vitamin A levels for young children in participating households was eight times higher than that of children in non-participating households.