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Walking the Talk
Dole-Future Food Institute Study Identifies Key Contributors to Global Nutrition Inequality

‘Nutrition Unpacked’ combines quantitative data with the input of a broad range of experts and stakeholders to uncover the underlying causes of nutrition inequality and identify actionable outcomes.

The Future Food Institute (FFI), in partnership with the Dole Sunshine Company (which refers collectively to Dole Asia Holdings, Dole Worldwide Packaged Foods and Dole Asia Fresh) today unveiled Nutrition Unpacked — a co-branded research initiative that ‘unpacks’ insights about nutritional inequities and gaps around the world. The study, conducted over the course of three months, combines quantitative data with the input of academics, practitioners and the voices of grassroots communities to uncover the underlying causes of global nutrition inequality and identify actionable outcomes.

FFI brought a range of stakeholders to the table, literally — through a series of six hosted dinners in Brazil, India, Zimbabwe, the United States, Poland and Japan — to discuss barriers, gaps and potential solutions. At each meal, educators, farmers, scientists, chefs, food technologists, policymakers, nutritionists, consumers and more shared a meal, and discussed their thoughts and perceptions about the gaps in nutrition and potential solutions.

“’Nutrition for all’ implies a shared responsibility to find adequate measures that benefit all stakeholders across the complex food system,” said FFI founder Sara Roversi. “To that end, we partnered not only with Dole, but with like-minded individuals and organizations all around the world to uncover the underlying causes of malnutrition and food inequality. By combining quantitative research and grassroots validation, we sought to uncover insights to drive opportunities for efficient policymaking and overall social impact.”

The nutrition gap is defined as the mismatch between the nutrients needed for a healthy diet and the nutrients consumed; and can be the result of a lack of availability, affordability, access, and/or food choices. More than 820 million people don’t have enough to eat; one in three people worldwide are affected by malnutrition, making it the largest contributor to disease in the world, according to the FAO.

In February, Dole launched a $2 million annual Sunshine for All” fund — aimed at addressing gaps in food affordability, accessibility and acceptability and waste around the world — as part of its corporate “Promise” to improve nutrition globally by 2025. The partnership with FFI is a key part of that broader effort.

“We believe that good nutrition should be like sunshine — accessible to all regardless of their gender, race or socioeconomic status. Looking at the nutrition gaps through this research helped us uncover new insights and fundamental local nuances crucial to creating sustainable solutions together,” said Dole president Pier Luigi Sigismondi. “Closing nutrition gaps is not just about understanding the different populations, but also the food ecosystems and processes that contribute to unequal distribution.”

The new research unpacks four areas of focus that FFI and Dole will explore and share:

  • Social nutrition. The connection between food habits and broader social patterns to explore why we eat the way we do.

  • Food generation gap. The values, preferences, beliefs, practices and desires that shape consumer behavior; and generational differences and perspectives on topics such as sustainability, taste, waste and traditions.

  • Hidden hunger. This occurs when food quality does not satisfy nutrient requirements. Key causes include scarcity and contamination of natural resources, lack of access to nutritious food, mass production of monoculture, nutritional quality, food loss and lifestyle changes.

  • Ecosystem. To assure nutrition for all, it is essential to go beyond undernutrition — focusing instead on redefining the food ecosystem while considering sustainability, food value chains, communities and infrastructures.

“Achieving nutrition for all requires many of us working together to completely reshape our food ecosystem,” Sigismondi added. “How we do that without compromising the livelihoods of local farmers and the limits of our planet is a question we work towards answering every day.”

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