Improving diets in an era of food market transformation

  • 26th April 2018
  • by secretary

18 April 2018. Rome. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition launched the policy brief: “Improving diets in an era of food market transformation: Challenges and opportunities for engagement between the public and private sectors”.

This discussion, framed by the six questions posed in the Global Panel policy brief, seeked to explore opportunities to build much more ambitious and effective links between the public and the private sectors to help improve the food environment, and enable better dietary choices.

The six priorities for action are:

  1. encouraging investments in food sector small and medium-sized enterprises, 
  2. promoting consumer demand for healthy diets, 
  3. public incentives for appropriate action in the private sector, 
  4. managing risks, 
  5. building trust, 
  6. and providing reliable and supportive infrastructure.

Private Sector Brief 5.05 MB
Private Sector Summary Brief 271.85 KB

The panel included:

  • Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director-General, Programmes, FAO
  • Anna Lartey, Director, Nutrition and Food Systems Division, FAO
  • Sir John Beddington, Co-Chair, Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and Former UK Chief Scientific Adviser
  • Tom Arnold, Global Panel Member and Former Director General, Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA)
  • Prof. Patrick Webb, Technical Adviser to the Global Panel 
  • Prof, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
  • Corrado Finardi, Senior Policy Adviser, Coldiretti
  • Arthur Muliro Wapakala, Deputy Managing Director, Society for International Development (SID), Representative of Civil Society Nutrition Group
  • Steve Godfrey, Director, Policy & External Relations, GAIN 
  • Marcela Villarreal, Director, Partnerships and South-South Cooperation Division, FAO
Diets are changing rapidly around the world. Leaders in almost all low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) today face a complex policy challenge – the so-called triple burden of malnutrition, where undernutrition, stunting and micronutrient deficiency coexist along with escalating overweight and obesity.

Rising incomes provide opportunities to consume a greater diversity of healthy foods, but they also increase access to more ultra-processed foods. Meanwhile, many diets continue to lack essential nutrients that contribute to undernutrition leading to stunting and wasting. Urgent action on diets is needed to address the burden of malnutrition that threatens achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Some governments are already stepping up their efforts to improve diets, but there remain few successful examples where governments have harnessed the market power of private sector actors to achieve positive gains in nutrition. 

“Developing nutrition-sensitive value chains in Nigeria” is an IFAD brief that explores how promoting the production and consumption of cowpea, groundnut, soybean, millet and sorghum could contribute to improving nutrition as well as livelihoods for smallholders.

Now is the time to prioritize investments in vegetable research and development: vegetables create economic opportunities for reducing rural poverty and unemployment and provide healthy diets for all, concludes a review article in Global Food Security by researchers from the World Vegetable Center.

The latest addition to the New Extensionist Learning Kit is available from the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services. It focuses on nutrition-sensitive extension and provides agricultural extension professionals with information on nutritious diets, interactions between agriculture and nutrition, and approaches to effectively partner with others working to improve the nutrition of different communities.

26 April 2018. FAO Webcast. Community voices in food security and nutrition projects.

Social learning approaches leverage peer-observation and learning in social contexts to achieve behavior change. They facilitate the convergence of perspectives on food security and nutrition problems, and facilitate the devising of integrated solutions based on communities’ inputs. This seminar presents mechanisms that can facilitate the implementation of social learning actions, and tools that can support these actions.