As the emerging burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases establishes itself firmly alongside food insecurity and undernutrition in urban centres, nutrition policy research needs to consider in more detail the interaction between consumers and their food supply. Where are different foods purchased, and why? What influences consumer purchasing patterns, and how could policy be used to incentivize a food supply that delivers healthier food, where and when consumers need it?
In this commentary, we consider the benefits of food supply-focused research in identifying effective policy interventions to address the dual burden of malnutrition in Africa. We then highlight an under-researched dimension of the food supply chain, which is at the point of interaction with consumers, and provide a short case study from South Africa to illustrate the potential benefits of strengthening this research focus.