South Korea launches ‘healthy food corners’ in convenience stores

The initiative was conducted as a joint project between the convenience store industry and the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), which saw the establishment of ‘healthy food corners’ at 104 convenience stores located near schools.

Convenience stores are a popular haunt for children and adolescents in South Korea due to the proximity, accessibility and available choices of these – especially stores that are located close to schools.

The healthy food corners established were set up with pre-identified products lower in sodium, lower in sugar, lower in fat and so on, which were individually labelled 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 via a formal statement.

“Convenience stores are very important here as data from local surveys have shown that there is an increasing frequency of younger consumers especially adolescents that are replacing meals with convenience store-purchased food at least once a week – as of 2019, this number stood at 69.1%%, according to the 15th​ Adolescent Health Behaviour Survey.

“So hopefully the healthy food corner will also help children to form correct and healthy eating habits [which is increasingly important] as the obesity rate amongst children in South Korea has been found to be on the rise over the past few years.”

According to government data, child obesity rates in the country for children aged between six and 18 years old have risen continuously since 2013, from 10% in 2013 to 12.3% in 2018 and in most recently this hit 15.9% in 2020.