Value Chain Focus on Food and Nutrition Security

  • Jessica C. FanzoEmail author
  • Shauna Downs
  • Quinn E. Marshall
  • Saskia de Pee
  • Martin W. Bloem
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Value chains are not a new concept and many working in agriculture and business have been utilizing not only the concept, but have put value chains into practical use. Yet very little has been done to ensure nutrition is included and linked into the chain. This is likely a reflection of the cross-disciplinary nature of food value chains (FVCs). The analysis of FVC requires an understanding of nutrition, agriculture, food technology, economics, marketing, etc. However, the training received by nutritionists in these other areas is often insufficient. Because of this, there are still many unanswered questions that require research, more operational understanding and collaborative investigation. Nevertheless, FVCs for nutrition have a role to play in terms of identifying innovative ways to improve the availability, affordability and acceptability of nutritious foods both in the context of under- and overnutrition, and there is currently a push for conducting FVC analyses in an integrated manner with various stakeholders. This will require buy-in from various actors in the value chain and will need to target both supply and demand-side dynamics. There is likely a role for policy in terms of supporting actions along the FVC that can contribute to healthier consumption patterns; however, there is also a role for the private sector. Applying a business-lens to nutrition may help to identify opportunities for integrating nutrition into FVCs with the goal of increasing the availability, affordability and acceptability of nutritious foods for the population.


Food value chains Nutrition Value chains Agriculture Food processing Private sector 


  1. 1.
    Global Value Chains Initiative. 2014. Available here:
  2. 2.
    Porter ME, Millar VE. How information gives you competitive advantage. Harvard Bus Rev. 1985;63(4):149–60.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hawkes C, Ruel MT. Value chains for nutrition (2020 conference paper 4). Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute; 2011.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hawkes C, Thow AM, Downs S, Ling AL, Ghosh-Jerath S, Snowdon W, Jewell J. Identifying effective food systems solutions for nutrition and noncommunicable diseases: creating policy coherence in the fats supply chain. SCN News. (40):39–47.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    KPMG International. The agricultural and food value chain: entering a new era of cooperation. London, UK; 2013.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Porter ME, Kramer MR. Creating shared value. Harvard Bus Rev. 2011;89(1/2):62–77.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yach D, Acharya T. Strengthening food security in a developing world. In: USAID frontiers in development. Washington DC; 2010.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Timmer P. The transformation of food supply chains. In: Pritchard B, Ortiz R, Shekar M, editors. Routledge handbook of food and nutrition security. Routledge: New York.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gómez MI, Ricketts KD. Food value chain transformations in developing countries: selected hypotheses on nutritional implications. Food Policy. 2013;42:139–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Reardon T, Henson S, Gulati A, Hawkes C, Blouin C, Drager N, Dubé L. Links between supermarkets and food prices, diet diversity and food safety in developing countries. Trade Food Diet Health Perspect Policy Options. 2010;111–130.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Reddy G, Murthy M, Meena P. Value chains and retailing of fresh vegetables and fruits, Andhra Pradesh. Agric Econ Res Rev. 2010;23:435–60.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gorton M, Sauer J, Supatpongkul P. Wet markets, supermarkets and the “big middle” for food retailing in developing countries: evidence from Thailand. World Dev. 2011;39(9):1624–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ruben R, van Tilbur A, Trienekens J, van Boekel M. Linking market integration, supply chain governance, quality, and value added in tropical food chains. In: Ruben R, van Boekel M, van Tilbur A, Trienekens J, editors. Tropical food chains: governance regimes for quality management. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers; 2007. P. 13–46.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Reardon T, Timmer CP. Transformation of markets for agricultural output in developing countries since 1950: how has thinking changed? Handbook Agric Econ. 2007;3:2807–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Reardon T, Gulati A. The supermarket revolution in developing countries: Policies for “competitiveness with inclusiveness” (No. 2); 2008.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Euromonitor International. Examining the impact of the growth of modern grocery retailers on the wider retail landscape. 2012.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Reardon T. The rapid rise of supermarkets and the use of private standards in their food product procurement systems in developing countries. Agro-food Chains Netw Dev. 2006.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Reardon T, Swinnen JF. Agrifood sector liberalisation and the rise of supermarkets in former state-controlled economies: a comparative overview. Dev Policy Rev. 2004;22(5):515–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Keats S, Wiggins S. Future diets: implications for agriculture and food prices. Report, London: Overseas Development Institute.
  20. 20.
    Lenfant C. Can we prevent cardiovascular diseases in low-and middle-income countries? Bull World Health Organ. 2001;79(10):980–2.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Popkin BM, Du S. Dynamics of the nutrition transition toward the animal foods sector in china and its implications: a worried perspective. J Nutr. 2003;133(11):3898S–906S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Marshall SJ. Developing countries face double burden of disease. Bull World Health Organ. 2004;82(7):556–56.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    WHO (World Health Organization. “Obesity and overweight.” Fact sheet No. 311, May 2013. Geneva: WHO; 2013.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Laverty AA, Palladino R, Lee JT, Millett C. Associations between active travel and weight, blood pressure and diabetes in six middle income countries: a cross-sectional study in older adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Activity. 2015;12(1):65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kohl HW, Craig CL, Lambert EV, Inoue S, Alkandari JR, Leetongin G, Kahlmeier S & Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group. The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. The Lancet. 2012;380(9838):294–305.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Yach D. Food industry: friend or foe? Obes Rev. 2014;15(1):2–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lim SS, Vos T, Flaxman AD, Danaei G, Shibuya K, Adair-Rohani H, Aryee M. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2010. Lancet. 2013;380(9859):2224–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Popkin BM, Adair LS, Ng SW. Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(1):3–21.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Adair L, Fall C, Osmond A, Stein R, Martorell R, Ramirez-Zea M, Sachdev HS, et al. Associations of linear growth and relative weight gain during early life with adult health and human capital in countries of low and middle income: findings from five birth cohort studies. Lancet. 2013;382:525–34.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Walker P, Rhubart-Berg P, McKenzie S, Kelling K, Lawrence RS. Public health implications of meat production and consumption. Public Health Nutr. 2005;8(04):348–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Stuckler D, McKee M, Ebrahim S, Basu S. Manufacturing epidemics: the role of global producers in increased consumption of unhealthy commodities including processed foods, alcohol, and tobacco. PLoS Med. 2012;9(6):e1001235.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Igumbor EU, Sanders D, Puoane TR, Tsolekile L, Schwarz C, Purdy C, Hawkes C. “Big food”, the consumer food environment, health, and the policy response in South Africa. PLoS Med. 2012;9(7):e1001253.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Stokstad E. Could less meat mean more food? Science. 2010;327(5967):810–1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wilkinson P, Smith KR, Davies M, Adair H, Armstrong BG, Barrett M, Chalabi Z. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy. Lancet. 2009;374(9705):1917–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). “FAOStat.” Rome: FAO; 2014.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) 2013. “The State of Food and Agriculture.” Rome: FAO; 2013.
  37. 37.
    Brinkman HJ, de Pee S, Sanogo I, Subran L, Bloem MW. High food prices and the global financial crisis have reduced access to nutritious food and worsened nutritional status and health. J Nutr. 2010;140(1):153S–61S.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Aggarwal A, Monsivais P, Drewnowski A. Nutrient intakes linked to better health. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(5):e37533. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.003753.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    WHO (World Health Organization. WHO Technical Report Series; 916. Geneva: WHO; 2003.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ruel MT, Alderman H. Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition? Lancet. 2013;382(9891):536–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Dewey KG, Adu-Afarwuah S. Systematic review of the efficacy and effectiveness of complementary feeding interventions in developing countries. Matern Child Nutr. 2008;4(s1):24–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
  43. 43.
    Hawkes C, Smith TG, Jewell J, Wardle J, Hammond RA, Friel S, Kain J. Smart food policies for obesity prevention. The Lancet. 2015.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hawkes C. Identifying innovative interventions to promote healthy eating using consumption-oriented food supply chain analysis. J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2009;4(3–4):336–56.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Hawkes C, Turner R, Waage R. Current and planned research on agriculture for improved nutrition: a mapping and a gap analysis. London: DFID; 2012.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ruel MT. Operationalizing dietary diversity: a review of measurement issues and research priorities. J Nutr. 2003;133(11):3911S–26S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Leakey RR. Potential for novel food products from agroforestry trees: a review. Food Chem. 1999;66(1):1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Arimond M, Ruel MT. Dietary diversity is associated with child nutritional status: evidence from 11 demographic and health surveys. J Nutr. 2004;134(10):2579–85.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    HarvestPlus. Biofortification Progress Briefs. 2014. Available at:
  50. 50.
  51. 51.
    Tomlins K, Ndunguru G, Stambul K, Joshua N, Ngendello T, Rwiza E, Amour R, Ramadhani B, Kapande A, Westby A. Sensory evaluation and consumer acceptability of pale-fleshed and orange-fleshed sweetpotato by school children and mothers with preschool children. J Sci Food Agric. 2007;87(13):2436–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Yach D, Khan M, Bradley D, Hargrove R, Kehoe S, Mensah G. The role and challenges of the food industry in addressing chronic disease. Globalization Health. 2010;6:10.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Swanson R. Final Evaluation of Dairy Development FFP DAP for Vulnerable Populations in Zambia. 2009. Available at:
  54. 54.
    Timmer P. The impact of supermarkets on farmers, consumers and food security in developing countries. In: Semba R, Bloem B, editors. Nutrition and health in developing countries 2nd edition. Totowa NJ: Humana Press; 2008. P. 739–752.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Eckel RH, Kris-Etherton P, Lichtenstein AH, Wylie-Rosett J, Groom A, Stitzel KF, Yin-Piazza S. Americans’ awareness, knowledge, and behaviors regarding fats: 2006–2007. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(2):288–96.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Mozaffarian D, Jacobson MF, Greenstein JS. Food reformulations to reduce trans fatty acids. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(21):2037–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    HarvestPlus. Disseminating orange-fleshed sweet potato Findings from a HarvestPlus Project in Mozambique and Uganda; 2012. Available at:
  58. 58.
  59. 59.
    Parfitt J, Barthel M, Macnaughton S. Food waste within food supply chains: quantification and potential for change to 2050. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci. 2010;365(1554):3065–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica C. Fanzo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shauna Downs
    • 2
  • Quinn E. Marshall
    • 3
  • Saskia de Pee
    • 3
    • 5
  • Martin W. Bloem
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Berman Institute of Bioethics and School of Advanced International StudiesJohns Hopkins UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Berman Institute of BioethicsJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Nutrition DivisionWorld Food ProgrammeRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Friedman School of Nutrition Science and PolicyTufts UniversityBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations