01 Jul

Participants at the workshop

Food is important to human life, and the most important component is the nutrition obtained from it. Food and nutrition are the second most important factor that helps in sustaining life.

All humans require the same factors for nutrition, only the amount and quantity varies. The best example is of the various vitamins, minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and chromium.

Food has become an important aspect of human social behavior too. There are typical preferences in food with respect to tradition, religion, culture, nationality and even locality; hence the adage: ‘One man’s food can be another man’s poison.’

A report by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an international organisation driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition noted that each day, 795 million people — one in nine — go hungry. Close to two billion people survive on diets that lack the vital vitamins and nutrients needed to grow properly, live healthy, and raise a healthy family.

According to the report, about 1.4 billion of the world population struggles with overweight and obesity. That’s more than the number of people who are hungry worldwide. The report also noted that in total, around 3.5 billion people — half the people on the planet today — are malnourished.

As a catalyst — building alliances between governments, business and civil society — to find and deliver solutions to the complex problem of malnutrition, GAIN since its launched in 2002, has targeted programs that has helped about 1.1 billion people in developing countries access healthier food, focusing its efforts on children, girls and women because helping them have sustainable, nutritious diets is crucial to ending the cycle of malnutrition and poverty.

At a one-day workshop organised by Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network in Lagos and theme: ‘Nutrition Communication and Social Media Marketing’, stakeholders in the food and nutrition sector discussed how communications and marketing can enhance consumers’ knowledge, skills, and behavior around food, nutrition and healthy eating.

In a keynote address, the Country Coordinator SUN, Uduak Igbeka noted that the gathering was necessitated out of the need to support businesses to better communicate nutrition to consumers and also to sensitize them on how to maximize the social media for better marketing of nutritious foods.

The Lead Speaker, Mrs. Iquo Ukoh, CEO of Entod Marketing/1Q Food Platter, in her presentation, engaged participants on the various behavioural patterns in food purchase and food trends that have changed among consumers in recent years; a situation, which to a large extent is caused by socio-environmental influences on consumer choices.

She said, “Delivering the right nutrition messages has become necessary, as the average consumer have become more inquisitive about the nutritional value of any product, which can be easily accessed from the comfort of their smart phones,”

Ukoh, further provided insights into why it has become pertinent for businesses involved in food and related activities to not only master the act of engaging different social media platforms to get their products across to the desired consumer, but also understand how to craft customised messages to fit each platform and attract specific consumer groups.

She urged the participants, particularly the food manufacturers to know and understand the challenges of transacting business online, social enterprise and the barriers to effective social marketing communication today.

The workshop was divided into three sessions, each with specific goals that were developed by the planning committee. Session one looked at the role of consumer education, social marketing and communication in consumer’s purchase and nutrition; session two focused on national laws, guidelines and policies on food, communication of nutrition information and relevant policies. Session three explored ways to strengthen nutrition literacy through communication tools and strategies.

The workshop had in attendance officials from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Federal Ministry of Health, who provided regulatory perspectives on food related policies including the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (BMS).

The regulators also provided clarity to participants on the expectations of the government from product development to product registration as well as communication to consumers.

The SUN Business Network in Nigeria, convened by GAIN is committed to supporting and strengthening the private sector’s contribution towards improving nutrition in Nigeria, through increased demand for nutritious foods and improved nutrition sensitivity along the agricultural value chain.

Source: Guardian