West Africa: The potential of fortified dairy

Monday 25th June 2018
Moving West to East, West Africa encapsulates 19 countries, from the semi-arid grasslands of Mauritania in the West, to the fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in the Republic of Chad to the East.

Even a cursory review of the economic, social and political indicators for these countries reveals an abundance of contradictions related to economic development, urbanisation, consumer behaviour and community living conditions.

However, regardless of locale, two key facets underpin these diverse populations, the ubiquity of milk products in the home as a source of nourishment and the prevalence of micro nutrient deficiencies, which adversely impact neo-natal and early childhood development for significant portions of the population.

While most of us in the more economically developed world will never come face to face with conditions such as cretinism, stunting, goitre or exophthalmia (low light blindness), these are an everyday feature for communities in the developing world. However, something as simple as targeted product fortification, designed to take account of these un-met needs can have a real and considered positive impact on the health of a developing nation.

If for example we consider something as simple as iodine deficiency disorders - conditions which have almost been eradicated in the developed world - can start before birth, jeopardize children’s mental health and often their very survival. Serious iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism, a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation that affects people living in iodine-deficient areas. During our initial review it has been noted that in six West African countries the prevalence rate from iodine deficiency is above 50%, meaning more than half of the population is potentially exposed to these conditions, creating generational developmental issues on a broad scale.

With a judicious use of insight, our vast experience developing and delivering powdered milk products into Western Africa, and our experienced and highly skilled R&D team we at Glanbia Ireland believe that there is the potential for milk products to provide more than satiation and taste.

We see an opportunity for milk, the ubiquitous product in households across all nineteen countries, to move beyond refreshment and nourishment and become a vector through which our high quality grass fed Irish dairy, combined with population-driven fortification requirements, has a real and lasting effect that will impact generations.

That’s why we at Glanbia Ireland are focused on developing a greater understanding of the underlying needs of diverse communities to provide not just a high quality product with a rich creamy taste but a product which may actually pay a premium to consumers that is beyond price.

[Ref.: “Glanbia Ireland West Africa Nutrition Study, 2018….”]