New York, 22 June 2016 - Nigerian food processing and distribution company AACE Foods has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to bring 20,000 smallholder farmers into the country's agricultural supply chain. The company will also provide nutrition and business skills training to 2,000 women with the aim of combatting childhood malnutrition and encouraging micro-entrepreneurship.
The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The company's inclusive business sources raw materials from smallholder farmers across the region as a way to increase local consumption of domestically-sourced processed foods. AACE Foods uses semi-automated manufacturing processes to transform these raw materials into spices, spreads, sauces and complementary foods. Through its innovative packaging, competitive pricing strategy and distribution approach, AACE Foods is gradually displacing imports currently purchased by commercial customers and consumers, and creating a new market among the low-income farmers.
Our passion and sense of urgency are motivated by three facts the high incidences of childhood malnutrition, food waste and the high rate of consumption of imported foods in Nigeria, said Temitope Jebutu, the company's Chief Executive Officer. At AACE Foods, we are addressing the first two challenges and capitalizing on the third by processing and packaging nutritious and tasty food made from the best of West Africa's spices, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. We are pleased to have our inclusive business recognized by the Business Call to Action.
Mr. Jebutu's sense of urgency is well-founded. The 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey revealed that 37 percent of Nigerian children under five years old were stunted, with rates above 50 percent in states in Northern Nigeria and hidden hunger in pockets of urban slums. This high incidence of malnutrition is not necessarily due to the lack of adequate food supplies because researchers at the Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta continue to do extensive research on post-harvest losses and estimate that to date, 40-60 percent of the fruits and vegetables grown and harvested by smallholder farmers across the country are wasted annually. At the same time, 90 percent of the processed food consumed in Nigeria is imported.
To meet the company's targets over the next five years, it will operationalize its factory by installing higher capacity equipment and adding sterilization capabilities. This will enable AACE Foods to develop and roll-out more complementary food and ready-to-eat snacks as well as expand the scale and scope of its involvement with smallholder farmers.
Chili peppers, ginger, garlic, soya beans, and maize are among the products AACE sources from smallholder farmers, 25 percent of whom are women. Partnerships with farmer cooperatives and non-profit organizations enables the company to commit to specified volumes, which provides farmers with better market information, enables them to anticipate planting and harvesting processes, and enhances the predictability of their sales. It also eliminates middle-men thereby raising the farmer's incremental household income.
Using local fruits and vegetables to displace imported fortified foods is also supporting the Nigerian government's desire for more 'home-grown' solutions to the country's high malnutrition rates. And the company's Our Mama programme complements this effort by providing nutrition and business skills training to women on an ongoing basis and AACE Foods projects to train 2,000 women micro-entrepreneurs by 2020.
By directly sourcing from smallholder farmers and cooperative groups in rural communities across Nigeria and providing opportunities for women entrepreneurs to deliver nutritional, affordable products to the BoP, AACE Foods is prime example of a company working to reach the country's development goals while meeting bottom line demands, said Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the BCtA. We are pleased to welcome the company to the Business Call to Action with this important initiative.
For further information:
Business Call to Action: Tatiana Bessarabova at email@example.com
AACE Foods: Temitope Jebutu at firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme, which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About AACE Foods: AACE Food processing and distribution Ltd. (AACE Foods) is an indigenous Nigerian company established in November 2009. We process, package and distribute nutritious and tasty products made from the best of West Africa's fruits, herbs, vegetables and cereals. Our product line consists of spices, spreads, sauces and complimentary food that excite and satisfy institutional, commercial and retail customers and our retail products are presently sold in over 150 supermarkets across Nigeria. We source our produce from smallholder farmers across the West African region providing training, inputs and micro-finance in a bid to reduce smallholder farmers harvest waste and improve their livelihood.