Fortification of rice has high potential reach; however, cost, technology, market, and cultural constraints have historically prevented its wider adoption. Due to Brazil’s rice industry concentration, mature retail sector, and PATH’s prior local work on Ultra RiceÂ®, it was selected as a test case for piloting a commercial model for rice fortification. The objective was to design and test a model to scale up rice fortification through commercial channels in Brazil over a five-year period through five key components: 1) building fortified rice kernel production capacity; 2) supply chain development; 3) distribution channel and market development; 4) demand generation; and 5) advocacy and knowledge dissemination.
Primary data was collected in two rounds of quantitative research six months apart and conducted in two regions in Brazil. Secondary data was sourced from published literature, socioeconomic and demographic data, and sales figures from the project’s rice miller partner. Post-mortem analysis was conducted by the project team with input from external sources.
While the project successfully launched a fortified rice product and a category brand platform, it was unsuccessful in reaching meaningful scale. Market and industry dynamics affected producers’ willingness to launch new fortified products. Consumers’ strong attachment to rice combined with a weak understanding of micronutrient malnutrition hampered demand creation efforts.
A purely commercial approach is insufficient for sustainable scale-up of fortified rice to achieve public health goals in a 3-5 year period. As in other fortification programs, full government, civil society, industry and consumer engagement are critical to success.