The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) encourages private sector investment in strengthening ‘national and global food systems to make nutritious diets more affordable and accessible to the poor, in particular for women, adolescent girls and children’ and in ‘healthier and more productive workforces […] as part of […] responsible and sustainable growth strategies’ (DFID, 2017). This report’s overall objective is to increase understanding of business initiatives aimed at reducing malnutrition, by mapping and assessing evidence and lessons learned, identifying good practices and opportunities for further engagement in nutrition and making recommendations to promote and support sustainable business action on nutrition.
The review looked at three pillars through which the private sector may have directly or indirectly impacted nutrition outcomes: (1) access to naturally nutritious foods, (2) scale up of fortified foods and (3) strengthening of workforce nutrition actions. For each pillar, one or more pathways laid out actions along private sector value chains, in product development, sourcing, production, marketing, distribution and sales. The review found great variation in the strength of evidence for the impact pathways in each pillar, depending on the period over which investments had been made by both the private and public sectors. The evidence base for fortified staple foods is strong, as investments in this pathway started over 60 years ago and accelerated over the past 25 years. Investments to scale up research and delivery through biofortification or naturally nutrient-dense foods are more recent, so the evidence base on the pathway to scale is just beginning to grow.