Reaching the most vulnerable people on our planet

Food fortification isn’t a new concept. It’s been around since the 1920s and many staple foods are fortified without us even realising it. But making sure that fortified foods contain the right levels of micronutrients in order to be effective in improving health isn’t always easy.

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GAIN launched its premix facility in 2009, so food producers have access to an easier, more cost-effective way of buying high quality premix. At the GAIN premix facility, we source micronutrients that are added to a range of foods such as oil, salt, flour, sugar, rice, biscuits, condiments like soy and fish sauce.

Within 6 years, at the GAIN premix facility, we have provided $51m worth of micronutrients and premix to more than 40 countries predominantly in Africa and Asia. It is estimated that the food fortified by the premix supplied by us every year will be eaten by over 150 million people. We work with governments, industry and organizations like UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The GAIN premix facility is a key supplier of micronutrients that are used for the production of a blended food called ‘super cereal’ or ‘corn soya blend’ (CSB). Super cereal is used for the prevention of moderate acute malnutrition, and is mainly purchased and distributed by the World Food Programme to those in need of humanitarian and emergency assistance due to factors such as conflict and natural disasters. Super cereal is a highly fortified blend of maize and soy flour including protein – essential for the wellbeing for women and children.

We work with large food producers and with small scale and local producers too in places like Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire. Small producers have different needs and requirements from large scale producers so we have a flexible approach to offer tangible solutions. For example, we work with the Kyrgyz Association of Salt Producers in Kyrgyzstan and supply them with potassium iodate which is needed for effective salt iodization and to ensure that people get the right levels of iodine.

Iodine deficiency disorders are the world’s most common cause of brain damage, so it’s crucial that people get the right amount of iodine to protect them from mental impairment and also other life threatening conditions like goitre.
In the past, salt producers in Kyrgyzstan had to pay for potassium iodate up-front and cash flow for small businesses is often an issue. Now, they can buy potassium iodate through an association at a competitive price and on credit through the GPF.

We also work with a distributor in Ghana where salt producers have struggled to access a reliable source of potassium iodate; this has proved to be a huge barrier in the past with efforts to iodize salt effectively. Our partners have been collaborating with the Ministry of Trade & Industry for several years and together we have developed a supply model which reliably delivers small pack sizes of affordable, good quality potassium iodate to any Ghanaian producer’s doorstep within twenty four hours. ‘It is a relevant and effective solution to some longstanding problems’ says Andrews Quashie, Project Coordinator Potassium Iodate Distribution System from the National Salt Iodization Committee, in Accra, Ghana.

In 2013, GAIN and HKI collaborated to support and initiate fortification of wheat flour and vegetable oil in Tanzania in accordance with the newly established food fortification regulations GAIN premix facility established a premix distribution hub locally. The aim was to develop a system that meant food producers always had access to wheat flour premix and vitamin A for the fortification of vegetable oil on a short lead-time (1/2 days). In addition all food producers benefited from extended payment terms thereby alleviating the upfront cost of acquiring premix.

After one and a half years of operations and upon closing of the distribution hub, market forces entered into play and food producers are now sourcing premix at cost from GAIN-approved premix blenders directly. This model helped educate food producers around where and how to procure high quality premix. The GAIN Premix facility remains an alternative option for food producers interested in sourcing their premix through the competitive bidding process used by the GAIN Premix Facility.

‘Our adaptable approach has allowed the GAIN premix facility to grow from strength to strength. Our success lies in listening to customers’ needs on a large and small scale, consolidating the needs and assisting them procure high quality premix cost effectively.

‘It’s imperative that staple foods that are fortified comply with standards so that they address hidden hunger. In addition to helping industry source high quality premix, increasingly our work is also focusing on building capacity of both industry and governments on food fortification processing and monitoring to achieve the desired health impact’ says Penjani Mkambula, Senior Manager, Food Safety, Quality and Procurement Manager here at GAIN.

More than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency or hidden hunger, GAIN and its partners are committed to tackling malnutrition. Find out more about the first global Summit on Food Fortification and read the Q&A with Greg S. Garrett discussing Why #FutureFortify 

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