Tackling the consumer-centric food system


The global statistics around malnutrition are shocking. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight or obese, while 463 million were underweight. And, roughly 45 percent of deaths among children under five years of age are linked to undernutrition.

Changing those numbers is something Regina Moench-Pfanner is beyond passionate about. She has over thirty years of experience working to improve nutrition, and is now the CEO and founder of Singapore-based Ibn360 Pte Ltd., an organization designed to help public and private clients design solutions to improving nutrition. She was in Canada this week to speak at the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference in Winnipeg.

Moench-Pfanner’s presentation focused on the challenge of food quality versus quantity. Much of the more affordable food of today is loaded in calories, but not nutrients, she says. And, any hope for change is going to take collaboration.

“If you want to tackle the food system, you really need to tackle all the players that are involved in the food system,” she tells RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney in the following interview. “And right now, one of the problem is that the food system is very consumer-centric, and doesn’t really cater to what the consumer needs — it caters to what the consumer wants.”

Moench-Pfanner says we need a diverse diet, adding the importance of colours on the plate. But, she says, many millions of people simply can’t afford to eat well. That’s where industry needs to come in, to offer innovation in nutrient-dense, affordable foods.

Of course, there are other problems. For example, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted, with fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers topping the list as highest wastage of all foods.

Changing food insecurity will not only take collaboration, says Moench-Pfanner, we should also be prepared for it to take a long time.

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