Nestlé is creating infant cereal products that boost value from ‘farm to bowl’ in Central and West Africa.
The company launched Cerelac Millet infant cereal fortified with essential micronutrients and probioticBifidus BL in Ghana, Senegal, Burkina, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria.
The product is the latest addition to the brand’s infant cereals range, which are nutrient-dense, easy to digest and are enriched with vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C and probiotics.
A lack of such micronutrients can lead to childhood malnutrition, whichis a leading cause of death in children below the age of five in Sub-SaharanAfrica, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Nigeria for example, one third of preschool children are deficient in vitamin A, while more than three quarters suffer from iron deficiency, which can cause anaemia, impact on mental and physical development in children, and increase maternal and child mortality.
Nestlé is helping to address these prevalent problems by improving the nutrient value of children’s diets by producing affordable, nutritious and sustainable products across its nutritional value chain.
At the same time, the company is creating value at ‘farm’ level through the use of locally sourced raw materials in its products.
Nestlé is doing this by teaching farmers agricultural techniques to improve the quality of crops.
The company was previously unable to use locally sourced grains in its infant foods due to the strict specifications it had set on its baby and infant products.
Now thanks to Nestlé’s Grains Quality Improvement Project (GQIP), which was launched in 2007 with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, the sourcing of local crops meets these rigorous specifications and can be used in the production of cereals like Cerelac.
In fact, 100 percent of millet used in its new Cerelac Millet infant cereal products is sourced locally fromfarmers in Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria.
Manufacturing local raw materials also creates value by boosting employment for local communities at Nestlé’s Tema factory in Ghana and the Agbara factory in Nigeria.
Nestlé’s GQIP aims to ensure a continuous supply of safe and high-quality agricultural raw materials, help rural communities to increase their income, and reduce the level of mycotoxins in grains and legumes.
Mycotoxins are a widespread, natural and fungus-based contamination that can cause immune problems, impaired development in children, and liver damage in both humans and animals.
About 30% of cereal crops were lost to contamination caused largely bythe humid environment and poor drying and storage practices.
Since 2008, more than 50,000 farmers have been trained and are now equippedwith the skills to produce high quality grains that meet Nestlé standards. Thishas enabled the rejection rate at the factory gate to decrease from 50% to 2% since the start of the project.
Cerelac infant cereal is only one of Nestlé’s thousands of fortified products sold in affordable formats and distributed by its sales force to small shops and kiosks.
Value is created at ‘bowl’ level as lower-income families can easily access such nutritious products, while farmers and street sellers are able to benefit from new economic opportunities.
This is part of the company’s approach to business, which it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’. Nestlé is creating opportunities and improving livelihoods for the communities in which it operates, plus developing its own activities.
To name a concrete example, 40-year-old maizegrower Samata Alidu, who lives in northern Ghana, has been able to more thandouble her production thanks to the training in better agricultural practicesshe has received from Nestlé agronomists. She is now able to send her children to school and even has some extra income.
First 1,000 days of life
By offering products such as Cerelac to consumers, Nestlé is helping to increase nutrients in children’s diets through the use of nutritious and appropriate complementary foods.
In Central and West Africa, poor feeding practices are far too common in the first two years of life, which can have an adverse effect on the development of children.
According to the WHO, this may be due to the low rates of exclusive breastfeeding or introducing complementary foods too early, too late or are of poor nutritious or hygienic quality.
Nestlé strongly believes that breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants and has created a number of initiatives to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life.
In line with the WHO’s recommendation, Nestlé promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of nutritious and appropriate complementary foods along with sustained breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond.
These messages are being reaffirmed through interactions with healthcare professionals as part of Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa’s (NNIA)scientific workshops. The NNIA is part of the independent non-profit organisation, the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, which is the world’s largest private publisher of nutritional information.
To leverage the launch of Cerelac’s latest infant cereal, a mobile clinic is on the road in Dakar, Senegal, and across the rest of the country to reach out to health care professionals and to provide nutritional advice to mothers on the first 1,000 days of life and complementary feeding.
Other awareness activities include a radio and TV campaign, symposia with health care professionals on iron deficiency, educating mothers at forums,and boosting the brand to local communities and at point of purchase.
This year, the caravan will be rolled out in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.