How do we make sure supply chains can efficiently bring safe and nutritious foods to market?
The world’s growing population increasingly buys—rather than grows—the food that it consumes: We need to develop supply chains that efficiently bring safe and nutritious foods to market.
Food supply chains are the complex networks of actors, regulations, and incentives that create a pathway by which agricultural products become the food on our plates. Especially in low and middle income countries, food supply chains are notoriously inefficient. As a result, safe and nutritious foods are generally more expensive than less healthy food alternatives.
To fix food supply chains, we will need to work to improve regulations, create incentives, and support supply chain actors to create a system that rewards the production and marketing of safe, nutritious foods.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the food system in developing countries, and are especially important suppliers of food for low-income consumers. Building capacity for SMEs to bring safe and nutritious foods to market is therefore critical. But supporting these SMEs is seen as a laborious process and a risky investment.
Public private engagement (PPE) offers an opportunity to address the two biggest constraints to SMEs by providing 1) technical assistance and other capacity-building opportunities to increase know-how, and 2) access to finance through grant funding, debt funding or equity investment.
Improving supply chain efficiency is a win-win. Greater efficiency can both lower the cost of safe, nutritious food for consumers and can also increase revenue for actors along the supply chain. So how can actors from the public and private sectors help support and incentivise SMEs along the value chain to ensure that safe and nutritious food is grown, produced and sold to consumers?
The resources in this section look at some of the main barriers for smallholders and SMEs, and how PPE has or could help make it easier, more profitable and more financially sustainable for farmers, processors and retailers to bring healthy foods to market.
Top resources we think matter
This video features Florence Tartanac, Senior Officer of the FAO Nutrition and Food Systems Division together with Eva Gálvez Nogales, Agribusiness Economist of the FAO Agricultural Development Economics Division. They call for increased dialogue between business, public, civil society to help coordinate and support food value food chains not just to as a way to contribute to better food and nutrition security, but also as a means create employment opportunities and improve the lives of the poor, especially in rural areas.
As the largest providers of food in Africa, SMEs are critical in shaping the nutritional outcomes of local food systems. Yet, agri-food SMEs remain largely untapped for developing and scaling up market based solutions that can improve the consumption of safe and nutritious food. In 2018, SBN, along with GAIN and local partners, hosted a pitch competition with the aim of connecting SMEs with new opportunities for financing in order to catalyse innovation in local food systems and improve access to nutritious and safe foods for low-income consumers across Africa.
Through a series of local pitch competitions held over July and August 2018 in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, a cohort of over 450 applicants was shortlisted by local selection panels against four main criteria: (1) nutrition impact, (2) commercial viability, (3) scale and (4) innovation. 21 global finalists – and their pitches – demonstrated the commercial viability of nutrition sensitive businesses, highlighting innovation and positioning entrepreneurs for growth and scale. To see more on the 21 finalists, click here.