Nestlé has acquired the rights to a novel technology that will enable it to address one of the world’s most widespread nutritional deficiencies: iron.
The unique technology, called Ferri Pro, was developed by researchers at the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) at Massey University in New Zealand.
It will allow Nestlé to address nutritional iron deficiency without adversely affecting the taste of food and beverages, raising the prospect that the world’s largest food and beverage company may soon release several new fortified products.
“We developed the technology to help to address the world’s most important nutritional deficiency, as over 1.6 billion people are suffering from iron deficiency anaemia,” said Harjinder Singh, director of the Riddet Institute who led the research team at Massey. “However, our goal was to not only address iron deficiency, but to address it without impacting product quality.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women and children are particularly at risk for iron deficiency, and if left untreated it can cause serious mental and physical harm.
Separately, the United Nations (UN) Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the knock-on effects of vitamin and mineral deficiency cost society $2.1 trillion globally every year.
To help reach vulnerable groups such as school-age children and expectant mothers, Nestlé fortifies affordable foods and beverages, like condiments and noodles, cereals and children’s milks. More than 80% of the company’s “popularly positioned products” for lower-income consumers were fortified with at least one of the ‘big four’ – vitamins A and C, iron and zinc – which are most commonly lacking from people’s diets.
The acquisition of the Massey technology will enable it to continue its efforts in reaching millions of children and families worldwide.
Petra Klassen Wigger, head of nutrition, health and wellness for Nestlé Research, said: “At Nestlé we believe that we have a key role to play in support of global efforts to tackle the global burden of micronutrient deficiencies. Through this collaboration with Massey University, we will have access to an innovative technology that enables us to effectively fortify our foods and beverages without compromising the quality and taste.”
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