Olam Ghana, a subsidiary of leading food and agribusiness Olam International, has launched Royal Aroma Fortified Rice – the country’s first and only brand of fortified rice.
The long-grain rice is fortified with micronutrients including iron, zinc, and B-complex vitamins, providing more than 15% of the minimum RDA (recommended dietary allowance) per serving.
The introduction of fortified rice to the market is aimed at helping to reduce levels of malnutrition in the country, where approximately 50% of women suffer from anaemia and 30% of pre-school children from iron deficiency, according to a 2017 micronutrient survey conducted by the University of Ghana in collaboration with UNICEF.
The approach has proved effective in reducing micronutrient deficiencies in countries where rice fortification is mandatory, such as the USA and the Philippines, or has been introduced voluntarily, as in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The launch ceremony, which took place at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra, over the weekend, attracted nutritional experts and senior officials from the Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND) and health care professionals.
It was hosted by Nana Ama McBrown, the popular movie actress and brand ambassador for Royal Aroma.
Speaking at the ceremony, Miss Amrita Dutta, Marketing Manager at Olam Rice, said: “What we are bringing to Ghanaians today is a brand of rice, with the same great taste, sweet aroma and ease of cooking, but powered with a variety of vitamins and minerals to promote health and wellness.
“The micronutrients it provides are, particularly, important for pregnant women and growing kids.”
In a keynote presentation, which heralded the unveiling of the Royal Aroma Fortified Rice brand, Dr. Kingsley Pereko, President of the Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND), urged Ghanaians to take healthy nutrition seriously, especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitates a stronger need to boost immunity.
“Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food,” Dr Pereko declared, adding that the micronutrients of Iron, Zinc and Vitamins B3, B6, B9 and B12, which come with fortified rice are vital nutritional elements essential for good health and general wellness.
Drawing from the GAND ‘Eatwell Guide’, Dr. Pereko encouraged Ghanaians to stay healthy by choosing carbohydrates that are wholegrain or high in fibre with less added fat, salt and sugar and also by eating at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
Dr Ernest Asiedu, Head of Quality Management at the Ministry of Health, commended Olam Ghana for its innovativeness in being the first to introduce a brand of fortified rice into the country for the benefit of Ghanaian consumers.
He then entreated Olam to endeavour to work closely with the Ghana Health Service and other relevant stakeholders to identify and lend some support to communities in Ghana that are plagued with acute micro-nutrient deficiencies.
In a brief address, Dr. Kojo Essel, CEO of Health Essentials Limited, said one of the most important lessons the outbreak and impact of COVID-19 had thought the world was the need for people to be mindful of what they ate.
“Indeed, we are what we eat! COVID has come to teach us that the food we eat is vital for our growth and survival. We are thankful that Royal Aroma Fortified Rice contains some of the nutrients, which are so vital for our wellbeing,” he said.
Ambassador Nana Ama McBrown, after unveiling the new brand and tasting the first portion of freshly cooked Royal Aroma Fortified Rice, said she was very proud to be associated with a food brand, which was already celebrated by Ghanaians for being delicious and nourishing and, which would now cater for some of the vital health needs of consumers.