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Building a Stronger Economy Through Food Fortification
Every $1 invested in fortification generates an average of $27 in economic return
Food fortification provides significant economic benefits, with every $1 invested in fortification generating an average of $27 in economic return from averted disease, improved earnings, and enhanced work productivity.
Improved public health
Proper nourishment with essential vitamins and minerals means fewer health problems, such as anemia, blindness, and stunted growth. These deficiencies can harm both physical and mental health, hurting our productivity and daily life. Fortifying commonly consumed foods with micronutrients is a way to address these deficiencies and improve overall health.
For example, fortifying salt with iodine prevents iodine deficiency disorders, which can cause goiter and brain damage. Fortifying wheat flour with iron helps reduce iron-deficiency anemia, a leading cause of decreased work performance and cognitive abilities. By reducing these health issues, food fortification creates a healthier population.
A healthier population means increased productivity, as we are able to work and participate in daily activities without the hindrance of health problems. This, in turn, leads to better economic outcomes as we are able to contribute more to our families and communities.
Reduced healthcare costs
A systematic review highlights the full impact of large-scale fortification programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC):
A 34% decrease in the incidence of anemia.
A 74% reduction in the incidence of goiter and a significant reduction in iodine deficiency.
A 41% decrease in the odds of neural tube defects as a result of reducing folate deficiency among women of reproductive age.
A significant reduction in vitamin A deficiency (VAD) for three million children (0–9 years) in just one year, reducing their risk of mortality.
Lack of proper nutrition causes health issues like weak immune systems, anemia, and birth defects. This leads to more hospital stays, treatments, and long-term meds. All these costs add up.
Fortifying food is an affordable way to give people the nutrition they need. This prevents deficiencies and cuts down on medical treatment. For example, adding iodine to salt reduces goiter, a condition caused by iodine lack. Unlike vitamin pills, fortifying food is simple and cheap. This is important in developing countries where healthcare is limited.
Food fortification also tackles the issue of micronutrient deficiencies, a big problem for many people. By making essential vitamins and minerals easily accessible and cheap, food fortification improves health and reduces the burden of nutrition-related illnesses on the healthcare system.
Increased food exports
Fortified foods, packed with important vitamins and minerals, can be more desirable to international markets looking to enhance their citizens’ nutrition. This leads to more exports and growth in the food industry. For example, countries with high levels of micronutrient deficiencies may prefer staple foods like rice, flour, and oil that are fortified.
These countries can benefit from fortified staple foods like iodized salt, maize flour, corn meal, wheat flour, and rice with added vitamins and minerals. And also, eggs with omega-3 fatty acids, almond milk with calcium, vitamins A and D, and other fortified foods. Exporting these foods creates new markets for local food industries and brings in extra income, boosting economic growth and creating jobs.
Selling fortified foods also improves nutrition in other countries, which leads to better health, productivity, and economic well-being.
Exporting fortified foods can make countries stand out as leaders in producing nutritious and high-quality food. This makes them more competitive in the global market and attracts investment for growth. This is especially helpful in countries where income per capita is lower, as healthy food like dairy, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods can be expensive.
Increased domestic production
Food fortification has a big impact on the economy, as it adds value to domestic food products and leads to increased production and job creation in agriculture and food processing.
As mentioned previously, fortifying food with essential vitamins and minerals makes it more valuable and in demand, both domestically and globally. This can lead to higher demand for domestic food products, resulting in increased production and job opportunities for farmers, processors, and suppliers.
For example, fortifying crops like maize, rice, and wheat with micronutrients make these crops more nutritious and in demand. This drives domestic production and opens up new economic opportunities.
Food fortification helps reduce reliance on imported food products. By fortifying domestically produced foods, countries become more self-sufficient in their food supply and have less need for expensive imported foods that can face supply chain issues.
Food fortification provides numerous economic benefits, including increased public health, reduced healthcare costs, increased food exports, and increased domestic production.
By fortifying commonly consumed foods with essential vitamins and minerals, we can improve overall health, which leads to increased productivity and better economic outcomes. Exporting fortified foods can also position countries as leaders in producing nutritious and high-quality food, creating new markets, and boosting economic growth.
Additionally, fortifying domestically produced foods reduces reliance on imported foods and opens up new economic opportunities. Overall, food fortification is a cost-effective and impactful solution for promoting better health and economic well-being.