Reward food companies for improving nutrition
In this expert opinion in Nature, Lawerence Haddad – Executive Director of GAIN – argues that governments must provide incentives for businesses to fix the global food system, not just punish them for acting irresponsibly. It is a missed opportunity that private-sector businesses are not encouraged to do more good things for nutrition, according to Haddad. Businesses are main investors in the world’s food systems. Punitive policies and government guidelines on healthy eating are not enough to alter the food system. Giving incentives could make the main investors in the food system play a more positive part in improving nutrition. Public-private collaborations could improve nutrition in many ways, not just with the vast multinationals, but with national companies. With a mix of public- and private-sector technical and financial assistance, businesses in, e.g. horticulture and aquaculture could make their products more available, affordable, desirable and profitable. Haddad describes 5 steps to better food: 1) Support business that work with nutritious foods, for example with lower taxes or by creating financial instruments; 2) Government should take the lead in creating consumer demand for healthy food; 3) Create models to emulate. Government and business need evaluated examples of things they can do together that work; 4) Name and fame. A ranking scheme is needed to flag which governments and businesses are doing positive or harmful things for nutrition; and 5) Foster public–private engagement. More dialogue between people working on nutrition in the public and private sectors will catalyse all these other steps.