Global Grain Progress

The 2019 increase in grain available for human consumption globally presents a tremendous opportunity for fortification. As more grain is industrially milled, grain can be fortified with essential micronutrients to save more lives.

More than ever, countries need support from FFI to better plan, implement, and monitor the fortification of industrially milled grain. Much of the global decrease in industrially milled and fortified grain 2018-2019 can be explained by two factors:

1) increasingly precise and accurate estimates of the percentage of industrially milled grain and grain fortified and

2) a global increase in the amount of industrially milled wheat.

Photo: A rice field in Senegal. Xaume Olleros/RTI
Photo: A rice field in Senegal. Xaume Olleros/RTI

 

 

a. FAO data from 2013 for both 2018 and 2019 as 2013 is the most recent year with data from most countries.

b. FFI calculations

 

Wheat

Photo: RTI
Photo: RTI

 

In 2019, the amount of industrially milled wheat increased by 700,000 metric tons. This means that more wheat flour has the potential to be fortified on an industrial scale.

The biggest change in wheat flour fortification results from improved data in Pakistan. In 2019, Nutrition International found that 25% of wheat is industrially milled and 8% of industrially milled wheat is fortified—a significant decrease from the historical estimates we used in 2018. Additionally, as a result of FFI’s in-depth work across Africa, we found that fortification compliance is lower than many of our 2018 estimates.

wheat map

a. FAO data from 2013 for both 2018 and 2019 as 2013 is the most recent year with data from most countries.

b. FFI calculations. 

 

Maize

Photo: Maize is ready to harvest in Niassene, Kaolack region, Senegal. Xaume Olleros/RTI
Photo: Maize is ready to harvest in Niassene, Kaolack region, Senegal. Xaume Olleros/RTI

 

The most significant impact on 2019 global maize progress results from incorrect estimates of industrially milled and fortified maize in Mexico, the single largest consumer of maize flour in the world. In 2019, 60% of the maize in Mexico was distributed as whole grain, leaving only 40% of maize industrially milled. In 2018, the data source suggested 100% of maize was industrially milled and 100% fortified.

 maize map

a. FAO data from 2013 for both 2018 and 2019 as 2013 is the most recent year with data from most countries.

b. FFI calculations.

 

Rice

Photo: A woman carries a basket of rice seeds on the field in Senegal. Xaume Olleros/RT
Photo: Jim Homes/AusAid

 

In 2019, the total percentage of industrially milled rice that is fortified remained constant, though the overall amount of rice that is available for consumption decreased.

rice map

a. FAO data with additional sources for Papua New Guinea and Bhutan. FAO data from 2013 were used for both the 2018 and 2019 estimates as that is the most recent year with data from most countries.

b. FFI calculations

 

How we calculate global estimates

We measure global progress in grain fortification through an annual survey.

We begin with data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations about how much grain is available in the food supply for each country.

Flour and rice available

To calculate the amount of wheat flour available, we multiply the metric tons of wheat available in each country by the country’s average flour extraction rate. We use 75% as the default extraction rate unless we have country-specific data.

For maize flour, we use regional extraction rates of 67.5% for Africa and 72.5% for South/Central America and the Caribbean. We use an extraction rate of 70% elsewhere for maize.

No extraction rate adjustment is needed for rice as FAO data represents the “milled rice equivalent.”

Industrially milled

We then adjust the numbers to reflect industrial production. We assume that 100% of wheat flour is industrially milled, with the exception of countries with a large number of small mills, such as Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. In contrast, we assume that 0% of maize flour and rice are industrially milled unless we have country-specific data to indicate otherwise. The exception is that in countries in FFI’s Europe region, we assume that 100% of the maize flour and rice is industrially milled.

Percent fortified

We ask national partners in governments, milling associations, nongovernmental organizations, and UN agencies to estimate how much of each grain is fortified in their country. We then compile the country figures into global estimates.