Oil Fortification

The main edible oils produced domestically in India include rapeseed oil, soy oil, cotton seed and groundnut oil. Edible oils are an important component of food in Indian households with its penetration in 99% households. Palm oil is the single largest consumed oil (38%) closely followed by soybean oil (22%).

Thus, it is possible to improve people’s access to fat-soluble vitamins through fortification of edible oils. Fortification of cooking oil with vitamins A and D is feasible technically, and economically and is a successful model.

Vitamins A and D are both stable. The stability of vitamin A is greater in oils than in any other food. Cooking losses range from 5% for boiling to 20% when the food is deep fried. The stability of vitamin D is similar to that of vitamin A — little or no loss is experienced during processing or storage. Fortification of oil does not alter the taste, flavour or the colour of the oil. The fat-soluble nature of vitamins A and D make it is easy to add them to oils without the need of elaborate equipment and the process is cost-effective (~12p per litre).

According to a recent oil production-consumption landscape analysis, conducted by the leading market research firm, IMARC, commissioned by TINI, the total oil consumption of oil in India is 24 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) annually, split between the organised sector, producing 19 MMT and the unorganised sector producing 5 MMT. Since majority of the oil industry is organised, a major portion (7 MMT) is put to use for institutional purposes in confectionary and the food industry. Around 5 MMT of the oil share is produced by the medium and small-scale industries that sell it in specific states and regions. A significant amount of oil (7 MMT) is produced and marketed by leading oil brands and reaches different parts of the county.

Fortification is not new to India. Fortification of Vanaspati with vitamin A and D started more than 50 years ago and has been mandatory in the country since 1953 to increase its nutritive value.

More recently, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended a homogeneous standard for oil fortification that may become mandatory in the future. The FSSAI has also launched a logo for fortification which is a mark of assurance for quality fortified products in India.

To achieve the FSSAI’s goals and standards for oil fortification with vitamin A and D, the Tata Trusts have been working closely with Food Fortification Resource Centre (FRRC) team and other development partners to scale up oil fortification in India. The FFRC under the umbrella of FSSAI has conducted various consultation meetings with partners from the oil industry, government stakeholders and other key oil associations to implement the fortification strategy in the oil industry. As an outcome of the two national level meetings, top oil brands such as Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable Pvt Ltd, Cargill India Pvt Ltd, Adani Wilmar Limited, Bunge India Pvt Ltd, Kaleesuwari Refinery Private Ltd, Emami Agrotech Ltd, Marico Ltd, Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd, and so on have already started fortifying their edible oil products with new standards. Around 43% (3.01MMT) of the edible oil available in the market today is fortified as per FSSAI standards.

Top oil-producing states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana fortify 3.825 Million Metric Tonnes of oil, annually reaching 325 Million consumers. This project is being implemented in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The overarching goal of this project is to implement large scale edible oil fortification in select Indian states to substantially increase the production and availability of fortified edible oil.  The approach of the project is described below:

  • Design and implement a large-scale edible oil fortification project in selected states
  • Undertake policy and advocacy for mandatory fortification of edible oils at the national and state levels
  • Scale up to other oil producing states
Key activities for the project:
Landscape analysis for oil fortification:
    • Production, consumption and market breakup by edible oil type in India
    • In depth market analysis for 8 states: production, consumption and supplier analysis
Capacity building and technical support
    • Sensitization workshops, orientations trainings to oil producers and food safety officers
    • Develop linkages between oil producers and accredited premix suppliers
Advocacy and communication
    • Round table discussions with stakeholders for edible oil fortification regionally
    • State launch of Fortified Oil
    • Promotion of F+ logo and consumer awareness initiatives
Quality assurance
    • Develop QA/QC protocols, operating procedures on oil fortification
    • Testing of random samples to ensure right quality reaches consumers
By leading the oil fortification project, the Tata Trusts aim to achieve the following milestones:
  • Fortified oil production by leading brands of edible oil
  • Capacity building for small scale industries in 8 states to help them in fortified oil production
  • Usage of fortified oil in public/government-run programmes in 14 targeted oil-producing states
  • Target a total coverage 7.75 million tonnes of fortified oil to reach 500 million people by the end of the project timeline of 18 months
  • Increasing consumer awareness that will lead to the increased demand for fortified oil

The Tata Trusts are also closely working for advocacy at the national level edible oil fortification, mandatory. The purpose of the project is to create a conducive environment for legislation in favour of oil fortification with vitamins A and D.

We believe that fortification of oil will contribute as an effective strategy to address micronutrient deficiencies in India.

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