L – R: Vice Chairman, Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Femi Mobolaji-Lawal; Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research,Lagos, Professor Innocent Ujah; Executive Director,Nigerian Heart Foundation, Lagos, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye; Marketing Director, Food & Nutrition, PZ Wilmar, Mr. Kalyan Bandyopadhyay during the signing of NHF-Mamador Cooking Oil Partnership to promote Hearth-Healthy Lifestyles
According to a United Nations, in the next 37 years 70 per cent of human beings will be living in urban areas. Today, 49.6 per cent of Nigerians are living in towns and the rate of urbanisation in the country is 3.75 per cent per annum. The social and economic changes, which urbanisation bring about impact our lifestyles. Even less economically well-off urban dwellers spend a lot of time commuting; they walk less, cook less and consume more processed foods, including snacks as well as a host of foreign food items. More than ever before, more Nigerians have sedentary physically less demanding jobs which involve spending a lot of time behind desks.
The Nigerian Heart Foundation, an affiliate of the World Heart Federation, Geneva is a registered charity, which promotes the health, and socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians especially as it concerns heart health through research and the public education about heart health. One of the NHF’s tools is educating the public about healthy food choices, a key determinant of general and hearth health. Registered in Nigeria In 2009, the NHF has over the years evolved its methods of achieving its objectives, recently adopting the global trend of collaboration with like-minded food manufacturing companies to promote messages about heart healthy food choices amongst the public. It signed an innovative partnership agreement recently with Mamador Cooking Oil, a vegetable oil brand made in Nigeria by PZ Wilmar, a joint venture between PZ Cussons and the world’s largest vegetable oil maker, Wilmar International. The first stage of the partnership involved the Nigerian Heart Foundation subjecting Mamador to a rigorous scientific test to ensure that it is free of cholesterol and contains other healthy benefits like Omega 3. This entitles Mamador to carry the “NHF Approved” logo which signifies to consumers that the product is heart friendly. This is a trend in food labelling in the world as healthy diets become a concern to citizens as well as government agencies and health economists wishing to cut health expenditure through preventive promotion of healthy lifestyles.
There is a unity of purpose between non-profit charities like the Nigerian Heart Foundation and for-profit businesses that make products like Mamador Vegetable Oil. These food manufacturers are aware that consumers are increasingly looking for healthier diets and lifestyles, they therefore make products that organisations with scientific authority like the NHF can certify as good for the health and submit the products for the rigour of certification. Secondly, makers of food products empower their consumers with information about healthy eating and lifestyles. It’s a striking coincidence that both the Nigerian Heart Foundation and Mamador Vegetable Oil websites contain tips and recipes for healthy eating. Companies like PZ Wilmar has a bigger marketing budget compared to charities, therein lies the attraction to foundations like the NHF- if they can be successfully partnered, the messages about healthy diets and lifestyles that the charities are seeking to promote will reach many more millions of Nigerians faster.
According to the Executive Director, Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, a lot of research was carried out to ascertain vegetable oil is indeed cholesterol free and it has taken NHF five years to come up with a conclusive position that Mamador Vegetable Oil is healthy for the heart. He stated that “The process of approving Mamador as healthy oil for the heart presented a very unique challenge as there have been disagreements about how good vegetable oil is for the heart, it has taken a lot of hard work but now we are glad to approve Mamador Cooking Oil after passing all the tests.”
He further noted that science is dynamic and keeps evolving so constant research is necessary to update knowledge.
PZ’s Marketing Director, Food & Nutrition Mr. Kalyan Bandyopadhyay, commented on the NHF approval of Mamador: “On our part, this again is a promise made being fulfilled today. The NHF approval is a demonstration of the commitment of PZ Wilmar to make products that are relevant and beneficial to the consumers in each local market.
All the benefits and claims of the brand which include its Cholesterol Free claim, vitamins fortification and Omega 6&9 where all tested and adjudged to be true claims and therefore certified by NHF as a brand that promotes Heart Health. This attestation is in addition to the country’s food agency (NAFDAC) confirmation of Mamador cooking oil benefits’’. According to Bandyopadhyay, the brand is able to deliver the heart health benefits, which include Cholesterol Free, Omega 6&9 among other things because of the company’s expertise in manufacturing the right oil suitable for consumers of each local market and because of its world-class standard technology deployed in production. Mamador Cooking Oil is manufactured by PZ Wilmar Ltd, a Joint Venture between PZ Cussons and the world’s No.1 vegetable oil maker, Wilmar International. Mamador was launched into Nigeria’s import-dominated vegetable oil market three years ago.
The General Manager, Marketing, PZ Wilmar, Mrs. Bukky Bandele, said the partnership with the Nigerian Heart Foundation provides a solid platform to educate Nigerians about diets and lifestyle changes that promote heart health and general wellbeing. She stated that Mamador believes Nigerians should enjoy their food, including local delicacies, without worrying about their health. Hence, the brand is working with the NHF and nutritionists to develop and spread awareness about healthier recipes and methods of cooking foreign and Nigerian staples and delicacies.
Bandele mentioned that the brand will be unveiling the Mamador Million Hearts Mission , the initiative which it will use to champion its healthy lifestyle messages. According to her, the Mamador Million Hearts Mission will encourage and empower Nigerians to become more discerning about their diets and adopt more active, healthier lifestyles. She explained that this will involve modest changes like taking a break to move around for a few minutes while at the desk at work or in front of the television at home.
The Nigerian Heart Foundation expressed the hope that more vegetable oil makers and other food manufacturers will step forward to seek NHF’s approval and partner it in the urgent task of promoting healthier diets and lifestyles in Nigeria.