Enriched grains now reach over 60 million people across 60 countries, but why stop there? While aimed at supporting nutrition and public health in developing economies, it is hoped that a billion people around the world will benefit from enriched crops by 2030. The technical authors from HarvestPlus and a steering group of international experts in government, plant and crop sciences, grain procurement and academics were involved in the development of PAS 233, which was facilitated by BSI.
To support procurement and trade of these enriched grains, and increase take-up, specific guidance was needed differentiating the zinc content of enriched crops versus standard crops.
The PAS 233 standard addresses this need with specified levels of zinc in maize (Zea mays), rice (Oryza sativa) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) intended as food for human consumption.
Paul Nicholson, Vice President of Rice Research and Sustainability at Olam Agri, one of the world’s leading producers, processors and distributors of rice, commented, “I was really happy with the process of developing the standard as it landed on the key commercial feature which was the nutritional level being claimed for the grains.”
It is aimed at producers, procurers and processors of grain, including traders, millers, primary food processors, food manufacturers, public health nutritionists, government health departments, food standards agencies, seed testing laboratories and food retailers.
As Paul Nicholson puts it, “By its very nature the PAS is meant to bridge between buyers in one country and sellers in another.”
To verify the production of nutritionally superior grains, all parties in the food supply chain or associated quality and compliance agencies must consider:
- Zinc levels (mg/kg) for three grades or “classes” of grain
- Sampling and test methods used to determine zinc levels in the grain
- Packaging and grain labelling
By providing a common point of reference for buyers and sellers the PAS should help to increase confidence in the quality of zinc-enriched crops through the supply chain and support higher level of production, trade and consumption. Paul’s view on this was that “The clarity of this document aids contracting so you can literally take it off the shelf and drop it in a contract.”
However, in the short run at least, it could be challenging to secure sufficient quantities at the highest class. So, allowing for multiple levels of zinc could provide greater flexibility and support larger scale contracts. Paul commented, “What’s nice is that there isn’t a single threshold, so you can set a price at one threshold and discount at another if needed, according to the availability of grain at each level.”
At the same time, while the new standard helps procurement teams, it is also useful, as mentioned above, for other organisations in the food supply chain, including farmers, processors, manufacturers and retailers.
The PAS was sponsored by the Commercialization of Biofortified Crops (CBC) Programme, which is a partnership between the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and HarvestPlus, with funding from Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Its development was facilitated by BSI.