Private Sector and Nutrition Communication

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By Segun James

Globally, an estimated 165 million children under the age of five years are stunted while 52 million are wasted and deficient in key vitamins and minerals. With the increase in the use of the internet and the social media, especially on information relating to food and nutritional products, it has become imperative to strengthen nutrition education through communication tools and strategies.

At a recent workshop on “Nutrition Communication and Social Media Marketing” by the SUN Business Network, a private initiative geared towards improving nutrition in over 29 nations in the world, the country coordinator, Uduak Igbeka said the need to support businesses to better communicate nutrition to consumers and also to sensitize them on how to maximize the social media for better marketing of nutritious foods had become more imperative.

According to her, delivering the right nutrition messages has become necessary, as the average consumer is inquisitive about the nutritional value of any product, which can be easily accessed from the comfort of their smart phones. Thus, she urged them to know and understand the challenges of transacting business online, social enterprise and the barriers to effective social marketing communication today.

Igbeka stressed that behavioural patterns in food purchase and food trends had changed among consumers in recent years, “a situation which, to a large extent, is caused by socio-environmental influences on consumer choices.” She said that people involved in food and related activities must get themselves introduced to different social media platforms in order to get their product across to the desired consumers and recommended that it should include crafting message that that fit not only the platform to use, but the kind of consumer bring targeted.

She stressed that SUN should network with other companies that have an interest in nutrition, while contributing to a collective voice and community for nutrition in Nigeria’s private sector, which does not currently exist.

The workshop also had in attendance officials from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Federal Ministry of Health who provided regulatory perspectives on food related policies including the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (BMS). The regulators also provided clarity to participants on the expectations of the government from product development to product registration as well as communication to consumers.

The lead speaker, Mrs. Iquo Ukoh, CEO of Entod Marketing/1Q Food Platter, engaged the participants on the various behavioural patterns in food purchase and food trends that have changed among consumers in recent years; a situation which she said was caused to a large extent by socio-environmental influences on consumer choices.

The SUN Business Network in Nigeria, convened by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is committed to supporting and strengthening the private sector’s contribution towards improving nutrition in Nigeria, through increased demand for nutritious foods and improved nutrition sensitivity along the agricultural value chain.