Making the business case: Garment worker nutrition programmes

Speelman L, Saab W, Koole C, Phillips J, Lofthouse J, van der Zijden M, Weiligmann B, Nyhus Dhillon C.
NewForesight and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
Resource type:
Case studies and tools

This study looks at research around the implementation of a nutrition programme in a garment factory in Bangladesh. It takes the perspective of Lenny’s Apparels Ltd (also known as Lenny Fashions) for investing in the programme, as well as garment buyers’ views of nutrition and sustainability programmes. The study found that the this nutrition programme was liked to higher quality of products, better productivity and decreased sick leave, and a direct impact on female workers’ anaemia levels. 

Key findings from the case study include:

  • Positioning was a key motivation for Lenny Fashions initially. The motivation to invest in the programme came from for Lenny Fashions’ desire to be a frontrunner in sustainability, positioning it well with buyers.
  • The nutrition programme demonstrated a direct financial return, in the form of increased quality of products and productivity of line workers, a decline in sick leave and improved employee morale as reported by the company
  • The programme also reduced anaemia by up to 32 percentage points among female factory workers through iron folic acid supplementation and more nutritious lunches which included iron-fortified rice (Hossain et al, 2019). In a challenging and competitive context, these tangible results made continuing the nutrition programme a smart investment for Lenny Fashions.
  • Internal champions were key: a human resources manager and CEO who were sensitised to nutrition were instrumental in making the programme happen.
  • Integrating the nutrition programme into existing programmes is key to success. Lenny Fashions integrated nutrition into their ‘Her Health’ programme, using existing structures, processes and trained staff, including peer educators. Similarly, structures like a canteen and food provision to staff made integrating nutrition easier.
  • There is a business case to be made to buyers. Currently, buyers face competing priorities, such as environmental issues and safety. There is an opportunity to take buyers on a journey, highlighting the direct business case for nutrition programmes in garment factories.
This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed