Globally, about 800 million people are undernourished and two billion are said to be micronutrient deficient.
This emerged at the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being has found that 40% of South Africans cannot afford healthy eating.
For a family of four to eat healthily, it needs to spend at least R3,200 a month.
The institute's Hettie Shonfield says this could be 84% more expensive than actual food expenditure of some consumers.
“One of the major challenges facing researchers, policy workers and government is how to bridge that gap, to make that 85% gap smaller so that more people can afford healthy eating.”