In early May 2020, a survey of food system small and medium enterprises (SME) in 17 countries was conducted by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) through national Scaling Up Nutrition Business Networks (SBN), convened by GAIN, the World Food Programme, and other partners. The survey aimed to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated control measures on businesses and their support needs. GAIN and partners received 363 responses, with most being from micro- or small-sized firms; respondents were primarily firms in the processing and distribution sectors.
Sixty-four percent of firms reported urgently needing technical support to cope with the effects of the pandemic on their business. Main types of technical assistance sought were advice on sales or distribution (49 percent) or marketing (49 percent), business resilience planning (47 percent), development of online platforms (43 percent) and quality assurance and/or quality control (42 percent).
Marketing was the top technical assistance request in the following countries: Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mozambique) and Asia (Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka). Based on these results, it has been recommended that governments and other development partners take steps to support these crucial yet vulnerable food system SMEs during this period, to ensure they remain in a position to provide nutritious, safe foods in the future.
This brief outlines nutrition and health claims and COVID-sensitive nutrition marketing messages for national SUN Business Network SMEs that can be tailored to their local context to help promote products that can contribute to good nutrition and healthy diets during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.