How do we use sticks and carrots to get more carrot sticks?
In this section, we have pulled together resources that explore how regulations, taxation and incentives can be used to nudge stakeholders in the food system to do more for nutrition through public private engagement (PPE).
One of the best ways for governments to influence the behaviour of both businesses and consumers is to set clear priorities – often people simply do not know what to do when it comes to nutrition. This can be particularly challenging for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are trying to navigate the intricacies of legislation, regulations and taxation when it comes to producing, processing and marketing their products.
Governments should take the lead in establishing and enforcing standards for nutrition, using the best available evidence to inform strategies and policies. While all stakeholders – including businesses - should have the opportunity to participate in a transparent policy process, conflicts of interest from the food industry as well as other actors should not influence standard-setting. Academia and civil society can play an important role in holding governments accountable for public and consumer interests.
So what are the tools, levers and drivers that can help make it easy for everyone to contribute to making safe and nutritious foods accessible, affordable and desirable?
Top resources we think matter
This is a really helpful case study put together by IGD that looks at businesses response to a new government policy to reformulate foods. Below, we have highlighted some of the study’s most compelling findings that provide insight into how PPE can help accelerate progress for nutrition.
- Incentives are key to action: 92% percent of businesses involved said they would conduct additional R&D related to reformulation if there were government incentives to do so.
- Public sector funding is need for R&D: It would have been impossible for companies to conduct R&D for healthier products without funding through the Healthy Ingredient Development Scheme. This was particularly true for small businesses – and really crucial for nutrition in Africa and Asia where SMEs are the main supplier of foods to people in Africa and Asia. It is also worth noting that this finding is echoed in the Where business and nutrition meet report.
- More awareness on public health priorities. 83% of respondents said this would help stimulate more action around healthy food and products. This should be a clear signal that governments are not making it easy to find the latest policies and priorities, which add additional barriers for action from businesses.
- More awareness of nutrition targets/standards. 73% of respondents agreed that government priorities are not clear. Setting nutrition targets and standards through national nutrition strategies, food based dietary guidelines, and labelling regulations can help with this.
- More technical knowledge. PPE could support capacity building by facilitating B2B knowledge and technology transfer, as well as through government or donor funding to facilitate technical support from NGOs, academics or implementing partners (e.g.TechnoServe, Nutrition International, GAIN).
- Help with consumer testing. Ensuring there is a market and demand for nutritious foods can be a challenge, so it is understandable that 43% percent of respondents flagged consumer testing as a way to do more. As with R&D, perhaps public or donor funds could be used to help mitigate the risk of companies creating new, healthier food products or reformulating existing products to be more nutritious. There is also potential for B2B to support in this area, leveraging expertise from MNCs to support SMEs.
- Improving internal communications. Often change is led by a few nutrition champions within businesses and organisation. Perhaps one way to help support their internal advocacy efforts is to ensure they have access to data that shows the positive impact of investing in nutrition – in terms of social good and ROI.
Blog by Jacqui Thorton of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looking at the personal story of Sandra Williams whose addiction to fizzy drinks shows some of the challenges of breaking consumer habits. Throughout the globe, the sugary drinks levy is a growing trend with different interpretations of what a high sugar content means in each country. What the levy has done is force manufactures to reformulate – speaking to the power of taxation as an incentive for business to positively shape the nutrition content of products.