A conversation with Anthony Hehir, Director of DSM’s Nutrition Improvement Program.

Anthony Hehir will be giving a rapid fire talk at the TFF Summit on ” How can we improve nutrition, not just yields?”

Tell us about yourself, your mission with your work with DSM and why you decided to partner with Thought For Food?

I am a South-African/Irish national who grew up in Botswana. I am currently Director of DSM`s Nutrition Improvement business, responsible with my team to drive our core business solutions to fight malnutrition, largely in developing countries.

I am a Dietitian by training and prior to joining DSM I worked in rural hospital practice in South Africa dealing largely with treatment of severe malnutrition.

We are a purpose-led, performance driven company, underpinned by a drive to create a sustainable future for the plant and the people who live here. Without good nutrition, we simply cannot achieve our potential as a human race, and to have the opportunity to contribute in our small way to this mission is something that inspires me every day in my work. Given that TFF is looking how to feed a massively growing future population sustainably, the overlap in our missions is very strong. TFF is made stronger by its sense of community, and for me without that collaboration and spirit of facing issues together, we’ll never achieve these goals. Thus a perfect fit to partner with TFF.

Where do you see the current challenges in the food and agriculture sector?  

For me it centers around how we define nutrition. It is not only food. It is also vitamins and minerals, clean water, sanitation and hygiene, agricultural yields and sustainable practices, dietary diversity, climate impact and so on. Nutrition is so incredible complex, and until we redefine and organize our food system as a whole, nutrition will struggle to be improved.

How might emerging technologies and science help accelerate a shift towards sustainable nutrition – and which examples already prove this?

AI, big data, smart phone access, communication technologies, new food technologies all will drive faster development of solutions. For example we’re seeing the emergence of non-invasive technologies that can accurately and affordably measure someone’s nutritional and nutrient status, which will allow much greater, faster and more accurate feedback on nutritional status of populations, impact of interventions, and suggest tweaks that need to be made. Measuring nutrient status is still quite expensive but with such technologies we’ll make leaps forward in advancing our nutritional progress agenda.

Where do you see the potential of next-generation start-ups collaborating with industry leaders, like DSM – in what way exactly?  

Fresh thinking – looking at the wold thru next-gen eyes changes the definition of what is possible. We need to listen to and collaborate more.

Bringing promising new ideas, technologies and business models to us to help shape and scale. We’re hungry for next big ideas that can help move nutrition forward, and many of those are outside.

Could you share a little teaser of your Keynote at the TFF Summit 2018?

800 million people go to bed hungry every night. This is a massive issue. But this is further compounded by the many, many millions more who suffer from hidden hunger, a chronic deficiency in vitamins and minerals. Although not as visible as “hunger”, the effects of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are absolutely devastating, to the point that it can negatively impact an entire country’s GPD. Through stories, examples and data, I will make the case for not just how we will feed the future 9 billion, but rather how we will nourish them. Therein lies the key to unlocking our true potential as a population.

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Intrigued to learn more about “how we can improve nutrition and not just yields?” Join Anthony and us at the TFF Academy and TFF Summit this July in Rio de Janeiro and get your ticket now!