GAIN National Food Fortification Program
Investment in Food Fortification Yields High Returns
Food fortification, which adds essential vitamins and minerals to foods, is an important strategy to fight malnutrition. The cost of food fortification to reduce widespread malnutrition can be as low as a few cents per individual per year for adding iodine to salt, and up to US$ 0.25 for more complex vitamins and minerals. Over the last 50 years, fortification has been an important public health tool in much of the North.
In May 2008 the Copenhagen Consensus, a panel of top economists, determined that providing micronutrients in the form of iodized salt, vitamin A capsules and iron-fortified flour for 80 percent of the world’s malnourished would cost US$ 347 million a year. The group concluded that the investment would yield US$ 5 billion from avoided deaths, improved earnings and reduced healthcare spending.
About GAIN's National Food Fortification Program
GAIN's National Fortification Program, which began in 2003, has expanded to support 19 countries with high levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Projects fortify foods and condiments including wheat and maize flour, sugar, vegetable oil, milk, soy sauce and fish sauce. Vitamins and minerals used to fortify foods include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, iron, zinc, folic acid (B9), thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (B12).
A broad coalition of governments, businesses, international organizations and civil society partners, known as National Fortification Alliances, support GAIN's projects. GAIN funds work on policy, legislation and regulation, the purchase of premix and fortification equipment, consumer awareness campaigns around fortification and training in fortification techniques and quality assurance for government officials and staff in mills, refineries and plants. Projects are sustainable as fortification continues after a grant agreement ends.
GAIN’s projects are delivering results. In South Africa, neural tube defects fell by 30 percent after folic acid was added to maize meal and wheat flour. In China, data collected from 21 health clinics showed that anemia dropped by approximately one third following the fortification of soy sauce with iron.