Where business and nutrition meet: Review of approaches and evidence on private-sector engagement in nutrition

Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

This paper looks at three pillars through which the private sector may directly or indirectly impact nutrition outcomes: (1) Access to naturally nutritious foods, (2) scale up of fortified foods, and (3) strengthening of workforce nutrition actions.

The excerpt below sets out the report's overall findings on approaches that worked well for business engagement in nutrition: 

  • Joining of forces through creating partnerships between businesses and nongovernmental organisations or technical agencies, de-risking private sector investments by public sector support mechanisms and establishing national nutrition platforms to expose business to nutrition solutions.
  • Vertical integration of smallholder farmers and other actors in global supply chains via deep engagement with suppliers who provide technical advice and inputs. This engenders better agricultural practices and higher-quality produce that is delivered more efficiently to market 3 to minimise losses as foods move off the farm and into markets. It also fosters measures to improve the nutrition and food security of the farmer families themselves.
  • Sharing of resources, such as cold storage facilities, processing units and the like, through lease or pay-as-you-use mechanisms. 
  • Proximity solutions that bring technologies or services (e.g. solar drying or on-farm processing) to the farmer’s doorstep, or nutritious foods in appropriate package sizes for on demand purchase by the low-income consumer. These overcome infrastructure and geographical challenges.
  • Innovative use of existing technologies to reach low-income consumers with information, products or services through mobile phone or other digital technology, solar energy or vacuum solutions.

The two biggest challenges identified in the report related to the regulatory environment and creating demand for nutritious foods. To better enable public private engagement, the authors call for clear regulatory frameworks that set out government priorities, standards and guidelines, as well as models for businesses to positively contribute to government goals. They also highlight the need for public private action to promote healthy eating, especially among low income consumers.

The full report goes into details on the above and is really worth the read, but we have also pulled out some of its learnings on the scale up of fortified foods and strengthening workforce nutrition programmes. 

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