Last year, the UN reported a dramatic worsening of world hunger, much of it exacerbated by COVID-19. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2020, hunger shot up in both absolute and proportional terms, outpacing population growth.
In fact, a multi-agency report published in July 2021 estimated the increase in moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020 equalled that of the previous five years combined.
Nearly 2.4 billion people (30% of the global population) lacked access to adequate food in 2020, with more than 800 million being severely undernourished.
“The world is at a critical juncture: it is very different to where it was six years ago when it committed to the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030,” wrote the authors.
It certainly is going to take a tremendous effort for the world to honour this particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
Global snack powerhouse PepsiCo is doing its bit with a new pledge to help 50 million people gain access to nutritious foods by 2030 by expanding its Food for Good programme globally.
Currently, Food for Good schemes include meal deliveries across Latin America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific; nutrition education for students in rural China; a nutritious school breakfast service for students in South Africa; sustainable agriculture programmes in southern Mexico; and investment to increase the capabilities of food banks around the world.
In Europe, initiatives include partnerships with food banks to nourish communities by donating meals and building critical distribution infrastructure, as well as development projects to provide long-term food security for regional agricultural workers. Programmes have already launched in Poland, Germany, Spain, Turkey and Russia with more to follow over the coming months.
PepsiCo’s ramped up pledge also includes an expanded range of affordable nutrition offerings as part of its PepsiCo Positive (pep+) journey.
Over the past year, the company has accelerated its efforts to help make the food system more sustainable, regenerative and inclusive. It recently launched its most ambitious effort yet by embracing a bold new approach called pep+ (pep Positive) – a strategic end-to-end transformation, with sustainability at the centre of how it will create growth and value by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people.
Private sector’s Zero Hunger pledge
The new goal is in addition to the snacking giant’s support for the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge, in which it has promised $100m towards positive agriculture and food security initiatives by 2030.
To achieve these goals, PepsiCo is partnering with various leaders around the world to address local needs at ground level, including a $1m grant to World Food Programme (WFP) to form a multi-country partnership across the Middle East and North Africa to focus on improving long-term food security needs of communities affected by climate change, conflict, natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
The Lay’s, Doritos and Quaker Oats maker is expanding the She Feeds the World programme into Colombia, Nigeria, Turkey, Thailand and Vietnam. The programme, a partnership with CARE, works to ensure gender equality and economic empowerment for women agriculture workers across the globe and is currently active in Uganda, Egypt and Peru.
PepsiCo’s Quaker brand is also partnering with CARE and Un Kilo de Ayuda to scale up efforts in combatting childhood malnourishment with programmes like Quaker Qrece, a holistic intervention that provides a specialised food product and education to at-risk communities in Guatemala and Mexico.
Additionally, the brand is expanding its number of nutritious and affordable products, including the 3 Minutos brand in Mexico and a newly-introduced range in Nigeria. Throughout Africa, Pioneer Foods – which PepsiCo wholly acquired in 2019 – will continue to grow its portfolio of healthier, less expensive options.
“The world is facing a dire global hunger crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Jon Banner, executive VP, PepsiCo Global Communications and president of the PepsiCo Foundation.
“As a leading global food and beverage company, we have a critical role to play in realising a more equitable global food system to ensure the communities we serve are free from hunger and malnutrition. We are proud to leverage our global capabilities in collaboration with local community partners in new ways, but it is just one step in a long journey toward realising zero hunger and ensuring a sustainable future for all.”
BakeryandSnacks speaks to C.D. Glin, PepsiCo’s global head of Philanthropy and VP of the PepsiCo Foundation, about the company’s ramped up efforts and how the food industry should come together to bring about real change.
He also reminisces on his time spent in South Africa as part of the Peace Corp, along with his predictions for the snacks industry in 2022.
State of the world
In July 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published its annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report examines the impact the pandemic is having on food security, thanks to four major drivers: economic slowdowns and downturns; climate variability and extremes; conflict and cost; and affordability of healthy diets. In addition, it revealed that hunger has increased where there is a high inequality.
- Global hunger has dramatically increased under the shadow of COVID-19, with between 720 and 811 million people facing hunger in 2020 – 161 million more than in 2019.
- Hunger increased in all regions of the world: 418 million in Asia, 282 million in Africa and 60 million in Latin America and the Caribbean. The sharpest rise in hunger was in Africa, where the estimated prevalence of undernourishment – 21% of the continent’s population – is more than double that of any other region.
- The pandemic has intensified the need to do more – and to do it more quickly – with predictions that over 650 million people may still be facing hunger in 2030, including tens of millions linked to the lasting effects of the pandemic.
- Nearly 2.4 billion people in the world lacked access to adequate food in 2020, a figure that leapt in one year as much in as the preceding five combined.
- Gender inequality deepened. For every 10 food-insecure men, there were 11 food-insecure women in 2020 (up from 10.6 in 2019).
- Children are paying the highest price when it comes to malnutrition. In 2020, over 149 million under-fives were estimated to be stunted (too short for their age); more than 45 million were wasted (too thin for their height), while nearly 39 million were overweight.
- Three billion adults and children remained locked out of healthy diets. Following a healthier lifestyle comes with a price and beyond the meagre purse of many, especially in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On current trends, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World estimates that SDG 2 (zero hunger by 2030) will be missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people.
In the report’s forward, the heads of the five UN agencies conceded that “Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.”
They noted that more robust agri-food systems are central to reverse the impact of the pandemic – an area in which the private sector can affect change.
In addition to its Food for Good, pep+ and Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge, during the pandemic, PepsiCo provided over $71 million in funding and donations, and in excess of 145 million meals to those in need across the world.
“We are grateful to PepsiCo for their decade-long partnership and steadfast support as we work to defeat global hunger,” said World Food Programme USA president and CEO Barron Segar.
“PepsiCo's critical investments in sustainable agriculture and building the resilience of small-scale farmers are helping us make great progress in addressing the root causes of hunger.”