Potential impacts of increasing supply of specific fruits and vegetables on nutrient adequacy


This presentation was delivered by Joanne Arsenault, Associate Project Scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, Davis.

This presentation describes an analytical framework for assessing the nutritional adequacy of national food supplies and the potential for agricultural diversity and increased production of fruit and vegetable crops to address micronutrient gaps. The micronutrient contents of national food supplies of three countries (Bangladesh, Senegal, and Cameroon) were calculated using national food balance sheet data.

Population-adjusted nutrient requirements were estimated and nutrient short-falls in the food supply were identified, defined as not meeting the requirements of at least 80%of the population. Linear programming modeling was used to determine a mix of crops that could fill the nutrient gaps for several nutrients while minimizing additional land use. Out of eight micronutrients included in the present analysis, six were identified as inadequate in Bangladesh and Senegal (vitamins A and C, riboflavin, folate, calcium, and zinc) and three were in inadequate in Cameroon (vitamin A, calcium, and zinc).

Adequacy of some micronutrients, such as vitamins A and C, could potentially be met with reasonably small additional land required by increasing production of a few fruit or vegetable crops that are particularly dense in these nutrients (e.g., carrots or guava). Folate adequacy could be improved with increased production of legumes and green leafy vegetables, but with a higher amount of agricultural land required. Other micronutrient gaps would likely need to be met by other means, such as enhanced livestock production, food fortification, biofortification, or imports.

While fruits and vegetables cannot meet all nutrient needs in a population, increased production and crop diversification could potentially close the adequacy gap for some key nutrients.

This presentation was part of at an event titled "Aligning the Food System to Meet Dietary Needs: Fruits and Vegetables," which took place on June 2-3, 2017, at the UC Davis Conference Center.