Assessment of factors that affect nutritional content of food

Rockefeller Foundation

Identify key trends and developments in scientific research on specific factors affecting the nutritional content of foods; and existing approaches and innovations for measuring such nutritional content.

– Development of an extensive information bank of research papers, reports, journals and datasets related to nutritional content of foods.
– Compilation of key findings and insights on developments in research to understand the effect of internal (soil and climate change) and external (processing and storage) factors on the nutritional value in foods.
– Compilation of new innovations and emerging technologies for measuring nutrient quality of food

Research to investigate nutritional value of various foods has been an important area of inquiry for a long time. With fast changing climatic conditions, deterioration of soil, and increasing global temperatures, there is significant interest regarding its effect on food production and nutritional security. Advancement in technology and innovation in the fields of storage and processing methods have further generated interest on its consequent influence to nutrient content and supply of foods.

The Rockerfeller Foundation mandated Intellecap to undertake a literature review for addressing key research questions, and mostly examine research conducted in the last decade. As a part of its approach, Intellecap reviewed a total of more than 115 research studies and online articles. The study review was conducted in three research areas;
a) the effect of external factors (soil and climate change) on the nutrient content of food,
b) the effect of storage and processing methods on the nutrient content of food and
c) existing approaches and innovations for measuring nutrient quality of food.

While assessing impact of soil and climate change on food nutrient content, findings suggest a direct linkage between adverse environmental conditions and decline in food nutrient content; significant emphasis on sustainable soil management. Findings highlight the need for integrating nutrient management with agricultural practices and adopting a ‘systems approach’ to combat the impacts of climate change. Higher up in the value chain – at the storage, processing and packaging stages, efforts to transition to innovative approaches and methods extends shelf life and minimizes food nutrient loss are key areas of focus. Lastly, with respect to measuring food nutrient content, the thrust for most innovation and future research is on empowering consumers to know more about nutrient availability in foods and make better and more informed choices. Going forward, the aspect of calculating nutrient density and profiling of foods is a promising research area in emerging markets.