Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Gert Spaargaren and Sietze Vellema conducted a research with the aim to investigate how Vietnamese citizens in their everyday lives are confronting the health risks and other side effects related to the consumption of fresh vegetables.
Concerns about food safety influence the way in which Vietnamese consumers confront the question of where, how and from whom they buy their fresh vegetables. In this paper we analyze in what manner and to what extent existing shopping practices inhibit the adoption of modern retail based food safety strategies. Using a social practices theory based approach; we analyze in detail the sales practices of sellers and the purchasing practices of consumers in a Vietnamese provincial city.
This study reveals how both sellers and buyers in wet-markets, Asian style fresh food markets, apply different sets of skills and knowledge, based on locality, personal contacts and private judgment, to match supply and demand in the context of food safety threats. Within the everyday practice of shopping for vegetables, trust is shown to be continuously reproduced along pre-given lines.
Consumers do not easily look outside or move beyond their existing routines even when food safety concerns would urge them to do so. From these findings we conclude that in situations where wet-markets serve as the dominant channel for distributing and purchasing fresh food, the efficacy of government and retail induced food safety strategies depends on their articulation within existing food purchasing routines of Vietnamese consumers.
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What explains the persistence of vegetable shopping at street markets even while they do not offer formal food safety guarantees in Hanoi? Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Sietze Vellema and Gert Spaargaren, with support of Fresh Studio Team, conducted a practice-based research in order to understand the motivation and constraints of consumers relating to their daily vegetable purchase practices.
Food safety is a widely recognized concern in Vietnam. Public officials, companies and consumers find different ways to address risks of pesticide residues and bacterial contamination related to the use of fresh vegetables in daily diets. The response of the government to these food safety risks includes the modernization and regulation of the food retail system. However, reforms that aim to offer a controlled and predictable provision of fresh vegetables through supermarkets seem to contrast with the daily consumer practices in a dynamic city as Hanoi; over 95% of vegetables is still being purchased at long-established open-air markets, importantly the informal and unhygienic street markets. Using a practices theory approach, this paper aims to explain this persistence of street-market shopping for vegetables.
Detailed accounts of consumer practices, case studies at different retailing sites and daily logbooks of consumers demonstrate that the way consumers cope with food safety risks is largely shaped by the temporal and spatial constraints of their daily shopping practices.
We identified how vegetable shopping is either enjoyed as social interaction within the local community or is regarded a time-consuming activity that conflicts with other activities in everyday life. Our findings indicate how these constraints constitute a reinforcing mechanism for the persistence of uncontrolled and unhygienic street markets.
To make policy responses to food safety risks both more realistic and effective, it is essential to connect to and accommodate the daily realities of consumers managing time and space in a modernizing city rather than to impose an ideal, typical market exclusively driven by the wish to control food safety risks.
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BoP Innovation Center (BoPInc) and partners (among others Fresh Studio) published the fifth and final publication of the series on the inclusive innovations process at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), named ‘The process of innovation to create inclusive business’.
The publication ‘The process of innovation to create inclusive business’ is the final publication in the Three Pilots for Pro-Poor Innovation (3P4PPI) series and discusses experiences and insights gathered from implementation on market-driven pro-poor innovations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Vietnam.
One of the main challenges for companies, international organizations and NGOs who embark on creating new business opportunities in BoP markets, are optimizing the outcome of the innovation development and to cope with high level of uncertainty inherent in inclusive innovations.
The Three Pilots for Pro-Poor Innovation (3P4PPI) consortium has been able to test a BoP Innovation Cycle, which represents the iterative phases within the process of inclusive product and service innovation development. Developing innovation at the Base of the Pyramid requires a specific approach. The cycle goes from identifying opportunities to the actual implementation of it. Key business dimensions of a BoP venture are developed in each phase. The acquired knowledge is used to improve the BoP Innovation Cycle.
The publication is available through download on the BopInc website