Choosing between supermarkets and wet markets

Food safety and better nutrition are real and serious challenges facing billions of people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide in urban and rural settings. Addressing both these issues are critical to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to ending hunger.

In many countries, like Vietnam, for generations, people shopped in local, traditional ‘wet’ markets. Confidence was a matter of trust and experience: consumers trusted the food they were purchasing was safe because they had been buying it from the same person for as long as they could remember.

Our work in Hanoi, Vietnam, explores how food safety policies can embrace the diversity in retail options for the consumer, while also looking for ways to improve food safety in traditional open-air markets or ‘wet’ markets. We described the potential to turn ‘either-or’ into ‘win-win’ in the recent UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition report, Food environments: Where people meet the food system.