Food system PPPs: Can they advance public health and business goals at the same time

Jessica Fanzo, Yusra Ribhi Shawar, Tara Shyam, Shreya Das, and Jeremy Shiffman
This work was commissioned to the authors by the GAIN as part of the Making Markets Work to Improve the Consumption of Safe and Nutritious Foods programme, which is supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany), International Development Research Centre (Canada), Irish Aid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The authors are affiliated with the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, USA. All photographs included in this document have been taken with consent for use in publications.

This paper considers whether Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) focused on improving diets and nutrition can simultaneously advance public health nutrition goals and business goals, provides analysis and opportunities for moving forward. Key messages from the paper include:

  • Improving diets and nutrition requires engaging and working with the private sector, given its significant involvement and power across the food system.
  • More evidence is needed on food system-specific PPPs to determine if and how they work to advance better diets and nutrition, including actual impact data and evidence of what constitutes ‘success.’
  • To address trust, more open discussion is needed, including laying out conflicts of interest and creating norms of respect for different opinions.
  • Governments should create appropriate incentives for the private sector to positively engage on public health nutrition goals, along with disincentives for contributing to negative outcomes.
  • To enable successful PPPs for better public health nutrition, stakeholders will need to think creatively, engage with diverse partners in and out of the food system, and adapt successful approaches from other sectors.
  • While PPPs are not the sole solution for fixing the problems of malnutrition within the food system, they are a potential solution when implemented well.
This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed