Although value-chain interventions have historically focused on increasing income for smallholders and other stakeholders along the chain (Hawkes 2013), value chains can also play an important role in determining the availability, affordability, quality, and acceptability of nutritious foods. The nutritional benefits and food-safety risks associated with consuming a particular food can be enhanced or diminished at key points along the value chain.
The literature on value chains identifies several general features that give value chains considerable flexibility in addressing nutrition problems:
- Value chains include all actors and activities from food production to consumption—“from farm to fork”—enabling complex food systems to be molded into a comprehensive, solution-oriented approach to improving nutrition.
- Interventions that tackle market failures can target specific value-chain actors, with a focus on increasing their incentives and capacities for delivering improved nutritional performance.
- Value chains provide a context for examining not only economic value along the chain, but also other kinds of added value, such as nutrition and environmental sustainability.
- Value chains provide a framework where overnutrition, undernutrition, and diets can be considered in an integrated way.
This brief aims to document opportunities to improve the nutritional outcomes of low-income consumers by intervening in food value chains.