Taking action on nutrition: Addressing the nutrition deficit in agricultural supply chains

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

This white paper from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) makes the case for investing in nutrition across agricultural supply chains. The paper outlines why nutrition matters and reminds us that this work should be people-focused. It also highlights what businesses can do at the farm, individual and community level and provides successful case studies to support its recommendations. Importantly, the paper calls for stronger action from business, but reinforces the need to work with and across other sectors in order to effect sustainable impact.

Below is an outline of the paper’s structure to give a sense of the topics covered but the full white paper is definitely worth the read.  


The benefits of working on nutrition security
  • Ensuring supply

  • Contributing to resilient communities

  • Increasing dietary diversity

  • Consumer trust and expectations


Business action on farms
  • Crop diversification

  • Improving access to markets

  • Agricultural extension services

  • Reduce food loss and waste

  • Business case studies:
    • Creating resilient crops (Kelloggs)
    • Improved nutrition in a three-step approach (Nestle)


Business action on individual level
  • Income diversification

  • Improving nutritional quality of workplace meals

  • Scale up food fortification efforts

  • Nutrition and health education, including cooking skills

  • Business case studies:

    • Optimizing mid-day meals for coffee farm workers (Olam)

    • Knowledge sharing with local farming communities (Symrise)


Business action in the communities
  • Improve health environments

  • Supplying diversified foods directly via a food bank type partner

  • Partnership case studies:

    • CARE decade of impact (Cargill and CARE)

    • The Seeds of Prosperity Program (Unilever and GAIN)


Opportunities for partnership

The authors call for multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve transformational change at scale. They provide the example of such a partnership in Madagascar. Symrise, Unilever, Kellogg, Save the Children and GIZ, the German Development Agency, are collaborating in Madagascar’s vanilla sector to educate farmers and farming communities on issues such as food insecurity, dietary diversity and crop diversification, including creating alternative cash crop markets.


Actions for businesses
  1. Assess materiality and risk

  2. Collaborate across the value chain

  3. Raise awareness and frame within the global agenda

This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed