The Micronutrient Premix industry has played a key role in meeting the challenge of supplying premix to countries to help national fortification initiatives and ensuring that staple foods can be fortified. However, COVID-19 has threatened food production and international trade. Lockdown and quarantine measures to contain the virus spread, as well as their economic consequences, have rendered nutritious foods less available and affordable, causing global hunger and malnutrition to rise.
This was stated by experts at Global Summit for Food Fortification organised by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in association with Hexagon Nutrition to address the challenges experienced by the premix suppliers and fortified food producers. Stakeholders & Industry Experts from Stern Vitamin, BASF, voices from Bangladesh and Mozambique participated.
Quoting the latest Lancet Series on Maternal & Child undernutrition, Dr. Saskia Osendarp, Micronutrient Forum highlighted the fact that an estimated 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and this number is likely to grow amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Large-scale food fortification is a cost-effective and proven strategy to fight micronutrient malnutrition. Lockdown & quarantine measures to mitigate the spread of the virus have made nutritious foods less affordable and less accessible thereby increasing global hunger & malnutrition. The fortification supply chain has also been severely affected by the pandemic.
Leo Schulte-Vennbur, Manager Food Fortification & Partnerships, SternVitamin/Muhlenchemie, said, “Due to COVID measures, the supply chain has been severely affected. Having a broad supplier base is one thing that we as premix suppliers can do so that from one country to another the ingredients can be procured and the products can be supplied on time. The ingredient suppliers should be credible and reliable so that the fortified products of supreme quality can be manufactured at all times.”
Claus Sondergaard, Global application specialist for Food Fortification, Technical Marketing, BASF stated that “In the fortification world, there are many challenges & opportunities in the overall supply chain. Food fortification improves health, education, and productivity – if the quality is right.”
Vikram Kelkar, Group Managing Director, Hexagon Nutrition pinpointed the operational challenges of production, supply chain, logistics, payments & customer connect during the pandemic even after the known fact that premix suppliers fall into the essential goods category.
It is the responsibility of the premix supplier to maintain the long-term inventory of key ingredients and collaborate with dependable suppliers. According to Vikram Kelkar, Hexagon Nutrition has a strategic partnership with distributors & global subsidiaries by maintaining stocks through our network of distributors intending to serve our customers better in these COVID times.
Speaking on the importance of premixes, Vikram Kelkar said, “The micronutrient premixes are designed according to the levels required at the end product per dosage. The vitamins and minerals are blended in the right proportion which is analyzed in a lab subject to satisfactory results before the final distribution.”
“There has to be an emphasis on investing in the country rather than relying only on imports. Hexagon Nutrition leads by example via the “Make in India” initiative promoted by our Hon’ble PM Shri. Narendra Modi,” he added.
Adeline Provent, Program Manager GAIN Premix Facility (GPF) highlighted that, “COVID-19 created shortages in the premix supply chain in terms of production, shipping & container shortages. It became extremely difficult to ship even small quantities of premixes due to high air freight and pricing of shipping one quoted became unstable.”
Strengthening the food distribution systems is the need of the hour so that food producers have access to the stock without relying on international supply chains directly, Adeline Provent said.
Father Osorio, Salina de Batanhe Enterprise shared his Mozambique experience. He highlighted the fact that there was a need for a unified approach that involves extensive and targeted pieces of training via great partnerships.
Akhil Ranger Tarafder, General Manager Marketing, Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) laid emphasis on Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) which is recognized as a global health problem. In 1989, the Govt. of Bangladesh passed a law to mandatory make all edible salt iodized.
The event saw as many as 404 attendees and stakeholders from different verticals across 69 countries. The webinar saw a plethora of Q&A’s from the attendees and appreciations from all the industry experts.
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