Brazilians stocking up on food essentials at their local markets discovered a new kind of product on store shelves in 2014.
It's known as "vitamin rice" in Brazil, and it features an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, a national seal of quality assurance, and an innovative fortification technology developed by PATH that could help break the cycle of malnutrition.
More than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, which compromises the immune system and impairs children's physical and cognitive development. PATH has played a catalytic role in improving the nutritional value of rice, the staple food of nearly half the worldʼs population, through our Ultra Rice® fortification technology and our work to expand access to fortified rice.
In Brazil, PATH built an alliance that brings together the national rice miller association, one of the most respected agribusiness universities, and key supply chain and retail partners to make fortified rice available to consumers nationwide.
Together, we bolstered local production, established the national quality assurance system for rice fortification, and developed an eye-catching social media campaign to increase the productʼs visibility and appeal.
To date, we have reached more than 2 million Brazilians with fortified rice, and demand is on the rise.
In India, our work paved the way for 100,000 children in one state to receive fortified rice as part of their midday meal. Work is under way to reach nearly 600,000 more schoolchildren in 2015 in two other states.
In Myanmar, PATH is working with government, multilateral, and private-sector partners to build rice fortification capacity and consumer demand, with distribution expected to start in 2015.
Evidence is growing that fortified rice can play an important role in improving children’s health and development. A large research study of 10,000 Cambodian schoolchildren co-authored by PATH found that children had significant improvement in vitamin A status and scored higher on cognitive tests after six months of regularly eating fortified rice.
Findings from the study helped inform a 2014 decision by the US Department of Agriculture to include fortified rice on its approved commodity list for food assistance programs. By 2016, up to 6.3 million undernourished people around the world could benefit from the micronutrients that fortified rice delivers.
Ultra Rice is a registered US trademark of Bon Dente International, Inc.
Through US food assistance programs, fortified rice could reach up to 6.3 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by 2016.
Key partners: Adorella Alimentos Ltda.; Akshaya Patra Foundation; Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; Institut de Recherche pour le Développement; Karuna Trust; United Nations World Food Programme; Urbano Agroindustrial Ltda.; Usher Agro Ltd.
Key funders: Abbott and the Abbott Fund; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund; Margaret A. Cargill Foundation; US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture; individual contributors and family foundations.