What's Old Is New Again: Innovative Policies to Support Thai Fresh Markets Within a Healthy Food System

AuthorAdrian Sleigh,Cathy Banwell,Sam‐ang Seubsman,Wimalin Rimpeekool,Jane Dixon,Matthew Kelly
Date01 March 2016
Published date01 March 2016
World Food Policy - Volume 2 Issue 2/Volume 3 Issue 1, Fall 2015/Spring 2016
Traditionally, ais have bought their food from fresh markets. However,
recently multi-national supermarket chains have expanded rapidly so that
currently, ais procure food from both modern and traditional retail formats.
If ailand were to follow the Western pattern, supermarkets will become the
dominant food retail format.
We present a synthesis of 10 years of multidisciplinary research, examining
the contribution of food retail to the ai nutrition and health transition, to
demonstrate that fresh markets provide access to fresh, aordable, nutritious
foods. Fresh market shoppers have healthier diets and lower chronic disease
risks than other groups.
In the South East Asia context, the protection of fresh markets constitutes a
novel intervention to protect and promote nutrition-sensitive retail. is could
be achieved through policy action nationally, with monitoring of national
and multi-national supermarket chain growth, regionally, with planning to
safeguard fresh markets’ urban locations, and locally, with the development of
food hubs.
Keywords: food system, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, food retail, nutrition
transition, ailand
Cathy BanwellA, Jane DixonA, Matthew KellyB, Sam-ang SeubsmanC,
Wimalin RimpeekoolA & Adrian SleighB
What’s Old Is New Again: Innovative Policies to Support
ai Fresh Markets Within a Healthy Food System
A National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, e Research School of Population Health,
ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, e Australian National University.
B Department of Global Health, e Research School of Population Health, ANU College of Medicine,
Biology and Environment, e Australian National University.
C School of Human Ecology, Sukhothai ammathirat Open University.
doi: 10.18278/wfp.
Three major and interrelated shis
in theorizing food systems have
been underway over the last two
decades. ey are as follows: recognition
that food security requires the provision
of healthy as well as plentiful food;
evidence of a nutrition transition linking
over rather than under-nutrition to
some of the top ten health burdens in
much of the world (Popkin, Horton,
and Kim 2001; WHO 2014); and recent
acknowledgement that more attention
should be paid to the connection
between agriculture and nutritional food,
otherwise known as nutrition-sensitive
agriculture (Jaenicke and Virchow 2013).
ese shis have occurred in the context
of rapid urbanization in economically
transitioning regions and countries.
As urbanization has increased
rapidly across the economically
developing world a burgeoning need
has arisen to recognize the vital role of
food systems in supplying the appetites
of urban populations. Increasingly, it
is understood that urban settings are
intricate and not only require, but also
encourage the development of complex
food systems to provide food and
nutrition security. Cities are “drivers of
the global food system” because they
are where most of the population lives
and the needs of urban populations
promote demand at a sucient scale
and for novel products. However, urban
agglomerations have become mainly sites
of consumption with food production
and other functions of the food system
remaining invisible to most consumers
(Dansero, Pettenati, and Toldo 2015).
Indeed, the modern food system has
being characterized by a disconnection
between producers, suppliers, and
consumers; the dis-embedding of
food from its place of production, and
related values and identities; and the
dis-entwining of food-related spheres
of economy and life such as food, care,
education, and leisure (Wiskerke 2009).
e food system itself consists of
multiple elements including production,
processing, transport, consumption, and
waste management at which interventions
can modify or improve the amount and
type of food that reaches consumers. As
Ingram (2011; 2013) and others have
noted, the food system underpins food
security with the latter predicated upon
the proposition that individuals and
households have access to food, either
through their own production or, as
in the case of most urban consumers,
because adequate nutrition for healthy
development and growth is accessible,
aordable, and acceptable through the
market place.
A conceptual gap exists between
theories about the transition from under-
to over-nutrition and the concept of food
security which was developed mainly by
those concerned with under-nutrition
(Popkin 2014). A broader concept of
food and nutrition security is now
required to address a problem developing
in even the poorest parts of the world,
namely that of over-nutrition. While
obesity is commonly seen as a disease
of auence related to overconsumption,
it is increasingly recognized that poorer
populations within wealthy societies are
increasingly likely to be overweight and
obese. In poorer countries, the rural and
urban poor can be obese and remain
malnourished because their diets consist
What’s Old Is New Again

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