Background: Two billion people worldwide have micronutrient deficiencies. Food fortification is a proven intervention to increase essential micronutrient availability in diets without requiring consumer behavioral change. Fortification of rice has high potential reach; however, cost, technology, market, and cultural constraints have prevented its wider adoption.
Objective: From 2010 to 2014, PATH and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition implemented a pilot project in Brazil testing a model to scale up rice fortification through commercial channels. The project focused on 5 areas:
- building fortified rice kernel production capacity;
- supply chain development;
- distribution channel and market development;
- demand generation; and
- advocacy and knowledge dissemination.
Methods: Primary data were collected in 2 rounds of quantitative research 6 months apart and conducted in 2 regions in Brazil. Secondary data were sourced from published literature, socioeconomic and demographic data, and sales figures from the project’s rice miller partner. Postmortem analysis was conducted by the project team with input from external sources.
Results: Although the project successfully launched a fortified rice product and a category brand platform, it was unsuccessful in reaching meaningful scale. Market and industry dynamics affected producers’ willingness to launch new fortified products. Consumers’ strong attachment to rice combined with a weak understanding of micronutrient malnutrition hampered demand creation efforts.
Conclusion: This project showed that a purely commercial approach is insufficient for sustainable scale-up of fortified rice to achieve public health goals in a 3- to 5-year period.