During 2018, the Southern Africa Food Lab participated in a study commissioned by WWF to understand if there is a role for collaborative industry-government initiatives as a means of addressing nutrition-related health challenges in South Africa’s more industrialised dietary transition.
The evidence is clear: South Africa faces significant and deteriorating diet-related health challenges. Overweight and obesity negatively impact development, as they increase the likelihood of incurring various non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, hypertension, coronary heart disease, various cancers and osteoarthritis.
The research, which included a desk top study and 46 in depth interviews with leaders in food businesses, academia and government, revealed that most believe it is time to act, and with some urgency.
Despite the recognised need for structural policy intervention, which is not forthcoming, and a widely shared concern with business incentives, almost all respondents agreed that there is merit in pursuing collaborative industry initiatives in South Africa, citing the ability of the business sector to
shape food preferences and drive innovation at scale, as well as the limitations in relying on regulatory intervention alone.
The Food Lab and WWF will host a multi-stakeholder dialogue aimed at pushing for change in the critical nutrition conversation. This is the 5th such event hosted by the Food Lab and supported by Reos Partners. Evidence has proven that a single event can spark new insights, relationships and capacities, while a long-term platform can enable new experiments, initiatives, and movements – and ultimately, system transformation.
Four Transformative Scenarios examining possible futures of the food system in South Africa by the Southern Africa Food Lab (SAFL). Produced by Brandfoundry.co.za. Illustration by Gavin Thomson. Camerawork by Grant Atkinson. Editing by Ashika Bracher.