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Bayer Expands Its 'Nutrient Gap Initiative' to Help End Malnutrition

The Nutrient Gap Initiative, which aims to improve access to essential nutrients for 50 million people by 2030, broadens its scope to include supplementation as well as food.

Shivam Dwivedi
Rodrigo Santos, President of the Crop Science Division of Bayer AG
Rodrigo Santos, President of the Crop Science Division of Bayer AG

As part of the company's vision of "Health for All, Hunger for None," Bayer is expanding one of its signature sustainability programmes, the Nutrient Gap Initiative, to improve access to both nutritious food and safety net supplementation.

The program's initial goal was to provide essential vitamins and minerals to 50 million people in underserved communities by 2030, with a focus on nutritional supplementation, which is a critical tool for creating a safety net for malnutrition in these communities. On the second anniversary of the initiative, the company is expanding the programme to help close the nutrient gap through the most basic source: food, specifically fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Often called “hidden hunger,” vitamin and mineral deficiencies are highly prevalent in underserved communities, with women and children being most vulnerable. This type of malnutrition develops gradually over time, the impact not seen until irreversible damage is done. Deprivation of essential vitamins and minerals may cause poor immunity, birth defects, reduced work capacity, learning disabilities, fragile health or failure to thrive - often exacerbating the cycle of poverty. COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine have both aggravated this health issue.

“As a global leader in both agriculture and nutritional supplements, Bayer is uniquely positioned to help all people get access to proper nutrition. The roots of malnutrition are complex and far from one-size-fits-all, so we’re drawing on competencies from across our company to fight it. We want to remove the barriers to a healthy diet for those who need it most,” said Heiko Schipper, President of the Consumer Health Division of Bayer AG and Member of the Board of Management.

“For people in underserved communities, access to nutritious food is a challenge due to the cost and local availability of fresh produce and grains. As part of our critical work for food security and smallholder farmers, The Nutrient Gap Initiative will help improve the livelihoods of people who do not have access to vitamins and minerals, leveraging also our Better Life Farming Centers,” said Rodrigo Santos, President of the Crop Science Division of Bayer AG and Member of the Board of Management.

Bayer's Nutrient Gap Initiative aims to strengthen the company's commitment to food security by addressing both the quantity of food required to combat global hunger and the quality required to ensure healthy lives with access to essential vitamins and minerals. Malnutrition disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, as well as rural communities, and this work clearly overlaps with the company's existing efforts to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Smallholder farmers are the backbone of many food systems, but their communities are often suffering from malnutrition and lack health services. Building on the existing strong infrastructure of the Better Life Farming centers, smallholder farmers will become a key audience for The Nutrient Gap Initiative. The Better Life Farming Centers, primarily in Asia Pacific, provide access to essential agricultural products to smallholders in remote rural areas, which is a key pillar of Bayer's Smallholder Initiative, which aims to impact 100 million smallholders in low- and middle-income countries by 2030. Given that food security cannot be achieved without health equity, Bayer will pilot the expansion of services offered with access to nutritional solutions and education.

The Nutrient Gap Initiative will help close the nutrient gap through direct action and collaboration with critical non-governmental organizations and the public sector by addressing the three main barriers to accessing essential vitamins and minerals:

1. Intervention: Many underserved communities lack access to vitamins and minerals because they are either too expensive or are not available nearby. We are bringing nutritious food (produce and grains) and supplementation (i.e. essential vitamins and minerals from the World Health Organization's essential medicines list) to those who need it the most, both physically and financially.

2. Education: Many vulnerable populations are unaware of proper nutrition, the importance of vitamins and minerals, how to incorporate them into diets, and the benefits of supplementation when necessary. We will empower people with the information they need to take control of their health through direct education as well as collaboration with healthcare providers and farmers.

3. Advocacy: Governments and policy makers can have large-scale impact when they prioritize access to affordable and nutritious food, health literacy and make essential supplementation a standard of care. We will join forces with partners to enable an ecosystem to advocate for access to good nutrition.

In 2022, the Nutrient Gap Initiative has impacted more than 19 million people in underserved communities, accelerating Bayer’s goal to expand access to everyday health for 100 million people in underserved communities.  As the program evolves to expand access to nutritious food, in addition to vitamins and mineral supplementation, Bayer will be able to offer more tools, services and programs to help build healthier, more resilient communities.

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