Improving nutrition through the workplace, where 58 percent of the global population spend at least one-third of their adult lives, has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of a range of key solutions to tackling the malnutrition crisis worldwide. The benefits to businesses, meanwhile, have been proven time and time again, with studies estimating the returns on investment (RoI) for companies on workforce nutrition programs to be up to 6:1. Workforce nutrition programs are therefore gaining increasing traction in the private sector, especially those focusing on direct employees.

However, to date, these programs have primarily been concentrated in high-income countries and predominantly for white-collar office workers, while relatively few companies have sought to address malnutrition among their ‘indirect employees’: global supply chain workers.This is despite rates of malnutrition being disproportionately high among low-earning and low-skilled workers in agriculture and low-tech manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). For example, ATNI’s 2021 Global Access to Nutrition Index found that only eight of the 25 largest food and beverage companies worldwide showed evidence of addressing malnutrition in their supply chains, many of these being largely ad hoc projects with only a marginal focus on nutrition.

Malnutrition in global supply chains
  • 1 in 5 jobs contribute to global supply chains, the majority based in LMICs, where rates of malnutrition are disproportionately high.
  • E.g. 18% of agricultural and 12% of manufacturing workers in LMICs are underweight. Especially high among women.
  • Many of the causes of malnutrition are directly associated with the work (e.g. food environment, low incomes, long working hours).
  • Effects of poor diets also have a direct effect on work output and resilience, causing vicious cycle of poverty among families and communities.
  • Multinational companies have the power, resources and reach to positively impact nutrition for millions of workers.

Companies therefore have the opportunity and responsibility to address malnutrition in their supply chains





ATNI is planning to publish a discussion paper on this topic, along with 6 company case studies from different sectors, close to the Nutrition For Growth Summit.

For more information, please contact Efi Chatzinikolaou, Program Manager

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