Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It is rare that conflicting interests can converge on any issue. The four stake holders in the food front in a country are consumers, retailers, industry and the government, each with different responsibilities and interests. While the retailers and the industry strive to maximize their profits, consumers and the government expect certain quality and absolute safety at reasonable cost. Ideally these stake holders must have a consultative mechanism to sort out issues that tend to crop up from time to time. With privatization becoming a buzz word in many countries including India, governments do have the responsibility to keep in check tendency to short circuit the consumer through appropriate policy orchestration.

In countries where overweight and obesity have become endemic, there is no alternative but to collectively approach the problem by all the stake holders to reverse the dangerous trend. Here is an example. "An unprecedented coalition of more than 40 retailers, non-governmental organizations and food and beverage manufacturers today announced the launch of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a national, multi-year effort designed to help reduce obesity -- especially childhood obesity -- by 2015. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation will promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance. It focuses on three critical areas -- the marketplace, the workplace and schools".

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) often work for the safety of the consumers by bringing to surface problems which otherwise get overlooked. The coalition like the above may lack the punch as there is no presence of government in the coalition, though the avowed purpose seems to be more education oriented.


No comments: