Food Fortification & The Perception of The General Public: The Fight Against Hidden Hunger Through Integrated Strategies


On Thursday, November 25th 2021, the SME Connect Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Consumer organized a webinar on “Food Fortification & The Perception of The General Public: The Fight Against Hidden Hunger Through Integrated Strategies” to emphasize the importance of food fortification as a tool to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals ending malnutrition and hunger. 

The webinar was hosted by MARLENE MORTLER MEP, AGRI Committee; Vice-Chair Delegation for Relations with South Africa; DEVE Committee Shadow Rapporteur on “a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system”; AGRI Committee Shadow Rapporteur on “a new EU-Africa Strategy – a partnership for sustainable and inclusive development”; and Chair of SME Connect Agriculture, Food & Consumer Working Group and introduced a great expert panel consisting of FADOI CHAOUKI, Nutrition Policy Officer, DG INTPA, European Commission; CHRISTOPHE GUYONDET, Team Leader 2FAS project – Food Fortification Advisory Services, Landell Mills; UDUAK IGBEKA, Africa Manager, SUN Business Network; Member of SME Connect Health & Nutrition Working Group; RONALD AFIDRA, Africa Network Coordinator, Food Fortification Initiative; LEIGH GUNKEL- KEULER, Vice Chair of the Health Products Association (HPA) of South Africa; DR. MANESHREE JUGMOHAN- NAIDU, Director  Agricultural Biotechnology, Department of Science and Innovation,  Republic of South Africa; and HON. JEREMY LISSOUBA, Member of Parliament for the Republic of Congo and SME Connect Board Member. 

MARLENE MORTLER MEP opened the discussion highlighting the importance of food and nutrition security to achieve the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. Now with the additional severe consequences of the Covid pandemic, no country is on track to achieve the SDGs by 2025. “Food fortification is part of a broader package to address micronutrient deficiencies and was identified as one of the three international development priorities.”

“The European Commission is deeply engaged in the food system transformation that is embedded in the Farm to Fork Strategy”, said FADOI CHAOUKI and further stated that the Commission now broadens the focus to combat malnutrition in every form. Malnutrition keeps one in the cycle of poverty. Moreover, it is key to locally produce fortified food in the food system transformation. “ We encourage SMEs to combat malnutrition.”

CHRISTOPHE GUYONDET emphasized that the food system is not working for all of us similar and puts a plethora of people at risk of hidden hunger. The Food Fortification Advisory Service further gave insides in the different types of food fortification and gave insights in the benefits, drawbacks but also opportunities of this tool to fight nutrient deficiency.

UDUAK IGBEKA added the side of SMEs to raise the awareness of the mobilization of the private sector in supporting national nutritional priorities in order to put in place innovative and sustainable food systems that resolve nutrition issues. She highlighted that not only the access to finance & TA for SMEs are important but also to strengthen the role of women in businesses as well as the youth. 

An additional side was brought in by RONALD AFIDRA. He emphasized the planning and implementation of fortification programmes, including essential monitoring tools to track the progress of these programmes.

 LEIGH GUNKEL- KEULER stated the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment in regard to nutrition deficiency in South Africa. She stressed the importance of food security, food sustainability and nutrition security in order to achieve SDGs and to end the vicious circle. 

A government perspective from South Africa was given by DR. MANESHREE JUGMOHAN- NAIDU focussing in particular on innovation to implement agricultural bioeconomy strategies. “If there is no policy coherence, it’s difficult to innovate.” The lack of coordination and exchange across government departments further contributes to food and nutrition insecurity. 

The webinar was closed by the remarks of HON. JEREMY LISSOUBA. He underlined the political view with but not limited to the focus of the Republic of Congo. Furthermore, existing feeding programmes were stressed to educate and support citizens about healthy nutrition and agriculture to reduce malnutrition and nutrition deficiency.