AFRICA – Millers from Africa and Asia have been urged to join a newly formed Millers for Nutrition coalition with bold ambitions of reaching one billion people with adequately fortified rice, edible oil, and flour by 2026.

Millers were singled out as they are responsible for adding micronutrients to staple foods and are therefore essential to unlocking the full potential of food fortification.

Currently, micronutrient deficiencies affect 3 billion people and cause severe and lasting health issues including malnutrition, stunted growth, and anemia, according to a 2020 Lancet report on hidden hunger.

To put everything into perspective, malnutrition is the underlying cause of 45% of child deaths, while stunted (physical & cognitive) reportedly affects 155 million children every year, according to the World Health Organization.

United Nations agency working to promote health globally further notes that 1/3 of women of reproductive age suffer from anemia (incl. 40% pregnant women).

Millers for Nutrition believes food fortification presents a viable solution to addressing this problem as it reaches entire populations and at the same time benefits those who need it most, hence the focus on millers.

The industry-led coalition mainly targets millers from eight countries across Africa and Asia: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania.

Millers who join Millers for Nutrition and commit to improving the nutritional quality of their food- specifically rice, edible oil, and flour (wheat and maize)- will receive free technical support to make it easier to fortify their products.

This includes access to tailored technical training and business advice, product testing support, and online tools and resources, which will also help millers to reduce their compliance risk and enhance production efficiency.

In each country, the focus of Millers for Nutrition activities will be based on government-led priorities and legislation and will align closely with the existing nutrition and food fortification strategies of governments and NGO partners.

As fortification quality improves, the coalition notes that its members will benefit as they gain greater recognition for product quality and industry leadership, for example through inclusion in a specially designed index that rates brands on fortification performance.

Millers for Nutrition is a cross-sector partnership, with millers at the center and industry partners from across the food fortification value chain, including founding partners BASF, DSM-Firmenich, Mühlenchemie/SternVitamin, Piramal, BioAnalyt and Sanku contributing technical expertise and support to millers.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing strategic input and investment to support the creation of the coalition.

International nonprofit TechnoServe, which has significant experience supporting industry-led fortification capacity-building efforts, will coordinate the program.

“Millers for Nutrition members stand apart because they represent a commitment to fortification excellence and product quality that improves the lives of the people they serve,” said Dominic Schofield, global director for food-systems transformation at TechnoServe.

“By sharing practical tools and best-in-class expertise and training from industry leaders, Millers for Nutrition will enable millers to step up and adopt food fortification best practices.”