How Nestlé’s Research and Development is helping to tackle diabetes
By Joëlle Abega-Oyouomi, CWAR Manufacturing Services
How does research and development make an impact on people’s lives in Central and West Africa?
In a region where non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, are increasingly affecting the health of Africans due to unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, we’re looking to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles through our scientific expertise and knowledge.
In my role, I work alongside a highly qualified team of food and plant scientists in the Nestlé Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, technologists, agronomists and sensory specialists, who work with Nestlé’s R&D global network to transfer knowledge, technology and meet the unique needs of Africans.
As the first centre of its kind in Africa, it aims to become a centre of excellence in five areas.
These include plant science, tropical agronomy and bio-fortification; African consumer understanding; extrusion and roller drying technology, packaging design adapted to local needs; and nutritional product and ingredient development for the region.
Providing high quality nutritious products
So how do we plan to achieve this? Firstly, R&D Abidjan supports our company through product development.
We’re focusing on product reformulation to meet the needs and tastes of Africans by using product fortification to tackle micronutrient deficiencies such as iron, zinc and vitamin A.
We’re also using bio-fortification, in which nutrient-rich conventionally bred crops are crossbred with high-yield varieties to produce high-yielding, nutritious crops as ingredients for our products.
Innovation and renovation
Secondly, we’re also renovating and innovating our products such as cereal brand Golden Morn to reduce salt and sugar without compromising on taste.
In 2015, we released the new Golden Morn recipe. It’s now 14% lower in salt and achieves the Nestlé Nutritional Foundation (NF) criteria in providing nutritionally sound products for children.
We also believe it is our responsibility to provide African families with the nutrition information and advice they need to help them make healthier diet choices.
We offer nutritional information on our products packs in the form of Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labelling.
At the end of 2015, 53% of our products had GDA labelling on the front of the pack, up by 14% in comparison to 2014 and aim to have 100% of our products GDA labelled.
Promoting healthy lifestyles
But we don’t just focus on science and technology.
In fact, we aim to promote good nutrition and healthy lifestyles by launching education programmes together with governments, organisations, healthcare professionals and experts.
In 2012, our company teamed up with the International Diabetes Federation, whose mission is to advance diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide.
The partnership has explored potential synergies with the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme which is currently running in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal to promote healthy lifestyles to schoolchildren.
We’re working with our partners, universities and the Ministries of Health and Education in the countries to boost the initiative. So far, we’ve reached about 81,000 children and 1,200 teachers in CWAR.
We’ve also partnered with the Ministry of Health in Cameroon to raise awareness on hypertension and diabetes among Nestlé employees.
In 2015, our company launched the ‘Healthy Living Africa’ campaign to help people cut salt in their diets, and introduced a salt campaign in Cameroon on the health risks of excessive salt consumption in the same year.
Our work at R&D Abidjan not only demonstrates our commitment to Africa; it also shows that we’re committed to helping people in the region – and worldwide – to continue leading healthier lives. I’m truly proud to be part of this.