Nutritious Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) bread in South Africa to tackle malnutrition and drive business growth

Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato bread

AUDA-NEPAD SANBio and International Potato Centre (CIP) in partnership with McCain Foods and Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is assessing consumer acceptance and willingness to purchase orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) bread in South Africa.

The SADC region has a serious challenge of malnutrition with the proportion of under-nourished population ranging from 5 to 47%. In 2013, ten of the SADC member states experienced stunting rates of close to or above 30% which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), are classified as high or very high. Maternal under-nutrition is also a major contributor to foetal growth restriction, which increases the risk for neonatal deaths and, for those that survive of stunting by 2 years of age. Sub-optimum breastfeeding results in an increased risk of mortality in the first 2 years of life.

Maternal overweight and obesity lead to increased maternal morbidity and infant mortality. In the SADC region 11% of babies born each year between 2008 and 2012 were born of a low birth weight of less than 2,500 gm and therefore starting their life-cycle at a disadvantage. Nutrition needs of adolescents tend to double during growth spurts and when reaching puberty. Other countries have a maternal and child malnutrition as a major challenge. Most countries face a double burden, where undernutrition (stunting and wasting) co-exists with over nutrition (overweight and obesity).

Vitamin A deficiency, anaemia and iodine deficiency disorders are the most common forms of micronutrient malnutrition with anaemia in pre-school age children reported at 45.5% in some countries.

Bread and related products are commonly consumed by low-income society affected by malnutrition such as vitamin A deficiency. The demand for healthier bakery products are rising rapidly due to increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of healthy food products has been increasing the market for nutritive products.

OFSP puree which is rich in Vitamin A is used as an ingredient to enhance nutrients. The benefit of producing such nutrient-rich product is its possibility to tackle malnutrition. Malnutrition is a burden among children under the age of five years in South Africa. 

What will be developed is OFSP puree bread and related bakery products for commercialisation. The project aims to promote OFSP as a healthier ingredient for these products. 

McCain's role in the partnership will be to manufacture shelf-stable OFSP puree for production of bread. It will source OFSP roots from known growers and sell the puree as an ingredient to major bakeries in South Africa. 

As the project is still ongoing, the end of the project anticipate to popularise the OFSP value chain and support rural economy by creating jobs and new innovative products on the market.