The initiative was carried out as a joint project between the convenience store industry and South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), which saw the establishment of ‘healthy food corners’ in 104 convenience stores near schools.
Convenience stores are a popular destination for children and young people in South Korea due to proximity, accessibility and the choices available from these – especially stores located close to schools.
The healthy food corners were set up with pre-specified products lower in sodium, lower in sugar, lower in fat and so on, which were individually labeled and marketed as better choices.
“The aim of these healthy food corners in convenience stores is to make it easier for children to identify and choose healthy and nutritious foods,”MFDS Minister Oh Yu-Kyoung said through a formal statement.
“Convenience stores are very important here as data from local surveys has shown that more and more younger consumers, especially teenagers, are replacing meals with food bought in convenience stores at least once a week – as of 2019, this number is 69.1. %%, according to the 15edAdolescent Health Behavior Survey.in
“So hopefully the healthy food corner will also help children to form correct and healthy eating habits [which is increasingly important] as the childhood obesity rate in South Korea has been found to be on the rise over the past few years.”in
According to government data, child obesity rates in the country for children aged six to 18 have risen continuously since 2013, from 10% in 2013 to 12.3% in 2018 and most recently this hit 15.9% in 2020.
“As such, the food and drink products targeted for this healthy food corner include foods with a lower sodium content, foods without added sugar, and [so on]and these are all certified for quality and safety,”she added.
“A wide variety is also included here, from gimbap (rice rolls) to lunch boxes with less sodium; drinks without added sugar; healthier items such as fruit and salad and so on, all of which can help protect children’s health and encourage them to develop proper eating habits [which will be crucial for their health] now and later in life.”in
The main convenience stores participating in this initiative include 7-Eleven, CU, GS25 and E-Mart. The overall project is still considered a pilot and will be used until the end of 2022 and its effectiveness will be assessed and analyzed.
Reach out to consumersin
Contact and direct communication with consumers seems to be at the top of MFDS’s mind recently, because in addition to the healthy food corner, the ministry has also set plans to collaborate with a number of the country’s main consumer groups to strengthen consumer communication .
According to the ministry, these will include deeper collaboration with the consumer groups as well as discussing major upcoming food-related policies and regulatory innovation tasks going forward.
“MFDS intends to implement our Top 100 Food and Drug Regulatory Innovation tasks with the main target of helping innovative products reach the market and commercialize faster, as well as stimulating new product development and supporting global competitiveness,” O added.
“For the food sector, there will be a strong focus on expanding local recognition of the food ingredients of the future while keeping these sustainable. in
“Also, there is a lot of rapid growth in the food sector in terms of food technologies such as cell cultured foods – these are considered new ingredients and companies in such areas are encouraged to submit the required safety and other data to MFDS for assessment and certification.in
“We believe that working with user groups around these as well as communicating with users for these will lead to more efficient results.”in